UNICEF says approximately one billion children are at an “extremely high risk” of the impacts of the climate change crisis. Research has shown that children born now will face much more extreme weather and other climate disasters than their grandparents experienced in their lifetimes.
The ASEAN asked children in the region about the impact of global warming on their families and communities and how they can help stop it.
Steven Ansel Suhindra, 13, Indonesia
Climate change has been drastically transforming our planet: from rapidly increasing the world’s temperature to inducing the rise of sea levels and causing extreme weather. All of this has been due to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide within the earth’s atmosphere, resulting from our excessive usage of fossil fuels, meat consumption that adds up to the methane gas l released to the atmosphere through oxidation, the usage of air conditioners that has fluorocarbons that deplete the ozone layer, and concurrently, our habit of performing massive deforestation.
The increased level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere changes the pattern of the earth’s climate and depletes the ozone layer from the fluorocarbons air conditioners produce, leaving our community with substantial consequences to bear: the rising sea level in Jakarta by around 3.6 mm every year, worsening air pollution in Jakarta, forest fires, and increase in surface temperature in Indonesia by about 0.3 degrees every decade. The high temperature causes changes in precipitation patterns leading to wetter climates in Sumatra and Kalimantan but drier seasons in Java, Bali, and Nusa Tenggara.
We need to act quickly by stopping deforestation and planting more trees instead. We can also stop the use of fossil fuels and use alternative energy that doesn’t affect our environment, like electricity, natural gas, biodiesel, dimethyl ether, and bioethanol. In addition to causing climate change, fossil fuels produce air pollution that can cause acid rain, damage crops and forests, and harm wildlife. Switching from fossil fuels to these safer alternatives is necessary because they don’t affect the environment and are mostly renewable.
Alfian Rasyiid Widodo, 15, Indonesia
The air quality is getting worse day by day, starting from the hot weather and excessive pollution. From there, I thought, “how can I reduce this”? Then I realised that to make a big change, we can start with small things. I discussed this with my family and they agreed to help me. I am part of a community at school where I invite all members to be aware of extreme climate changes. They all agreed with what I said, and from there, I saw a lot more awareness from my family and my community about climate change. They started using public transportation provided by the government, and reduced using private cars which causes more pollution. They lessened the use of plastic to protect the environment. My community often plants trees with local residents to remind them of the importance of protecting our planet.
Little by little, I see changes that are good for the environment. I realised that big changes can be made through simple ways, and everyone’s awareness of climate change greatly affects how we will live in the future.
Mahalakshmi El Trinity Nirvana, 14, Indonesia
The pandemic and quarantine have made me realise that our time on Earth is very precious. With online learning, all I’ve ever been at is at home. I would be busy with school, and my parents would be busy with work. Then in the magical afternoon, when cars would start to head home and birds chirp in unison, my parents and I would go to the garden. That’s when I realised there should always be time spent to save the Earth.
In the garden, we would plant corn, tomatoes, watermelon, durian, eggplant, melon, chilli, rambutan, betel nut, cabbage, carrot, and many other plants. I take care of our chickens roaming in the garden.
I have taken care of my environment and planet Earth by simply planting. Plants provide oxygen, serve as a food source for humans and animals, resist landslides, are a source of water, and a place for birds to live (my chickens!).
In our tiny backyard, my family has recently expanded our garden on a bigger piece of land. Our garden is home to many of our plants. It is our way of taking care of the planet Earth. When the plants bear fruits from our water and homemade fertiliser, we would eat a feast with our friendly neighbours. We would eat roasted corn in the chilly wind and share it with my chickens, too. Then as we sleep on our beds, my chickens rest on a branch of our planted tree.
The plan for our garden is to add a fishpond. Water from the pond can be used to fertilise the plants as well. So, our garden shall be home to many creatures indeed!
Kyle Oliver Alegre, 13, Philippines
Climate change has greatly affected my community in Cavite. It brought about numerous strong typhoons that destroyed crops, houses, establishments, and the lives of many Caviteños. Numerous cities and municipalities here in Cavite experienced flooding when there was none before. In the past few years, strong typhoons that hit Cavite caused our classes to be suspended. It also indirectly affected our tourism because bad weather caused cancelled hotel reservations and vacations. Some businesses near us closed because strong winds and flooding damaged their establishments
The extreme changes in weather patterns, whether El Niño (less rain) or La Niña (more rain), made it difficult for our farmers and livestock owners to sustain food production, thus, resulting in lesser food supply for the growing population in our country. There also have been several news reports about fish kills and red tide in some provinces.
Climate change did affect not only our agriculture but also our health. Higher temperatures cause heat stroke, dehydration and headache, and there are more pests like mosquitos that cause dengue and malaria. In 2019, one of my closest friends got sick with dengue fever, but he quickly recovered from it.
In our country, fossil fuel is still being used as a source of energy. It contributes to the large amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that causes global warming.
To lessen the effect of global warming, I think the government should focus more on using renewable energy, like windmill turbines that use wind, instead of using minerals that produce toxic greenhouse gases. We can also use solar panels as another source of electricity. If one can afford it, buy electric vehicles as mode of transportation, or better yet, use a bicycle or walk if it is just a short distance.
As a teen, I think a simpler and easier way to help is to recycle and to stop using single-use plastic. We should also plant more trees or try to do urban gardening. I believe everybody should be more aware of the situation of our environment. In my opinion, nobody is too young to be educated about climate change and to help reduce its effects.
Note: The children featured in this section submitted their written responses and photographs to The ASEAN with the consent of their parents/guardians. The submissions were received between June-July 2022 and edited lightly for clarity.