Testimonies are powerful because they bring together immediacy of experiences, urgency of issues and force of convictions into the moment of enunciation. This tract seeks to mobilize that power to address one of the most pressing issues of our time, climate change. It is a compendium of sixty testimonies by young people from all continents, including Antarctica, interspersed by rudimentary notes on climate change challenges faced by each of these continents. Most of the testimonies follow a simple three step narrative: coming into awareness, prompted into action and a mild critique of powers that be in some form. Together they give a fair idea of the contours of the comfort zone for middle class activism around environmental issues in general and climate change in particular.
The protagonists here are largely young people who are moved by what they have read, watched, witnessed and occasionally experienced of the slow violence of environmental degradation and climate change. They seek answers, intervention and meaningful action on the part of public authority and private enterprise. They question the inaction of the governments, deceit of the corporates and interrogate the indifference of public discourse. In trying to do their bit, their own activism takes several forms of constructive initiatives to intervene in small ways to limited political mobilizations that seek to force the hand of the reluctant governments. Together they are responding to the ‘existential anxiety’ of their generation. One figures from these statements that there is a growing understanding that climate change, its consequences and the anxiety it induces are shared conditions on a global scale. Clearly, that awareness and access to the world provided by the communications revolution of our times are what sustain such activism. The jury, of course, is still out on how effective this kind of activism will be in the long run.