parent opinion

'We need to fight for our children.' An urgent plea from a parent turned climate activist.

I’m a reluctant climate activist. I was brought up thinking that protests and marches are just for scruffy loonies and rent-a-crowds. As a marine scientist, I’m methodical and factual.

I prefer being underwater to being in a crowd of humans. Biology and statistics make more sense to me than sociology and politics.

Yet here I am, a lead facilitator of my city’s youth-led Global #ClimateStrike, and a co-founder of Australian Parents for Climate Action – a growing national network of parents, grandparents and caregivers calling on our government to act now, for a liveable future.

I find myself asking, how did I get here?

During the past decade, I’ve watched my favourite places on Earth – coral reefs and polar regions – being decimated by climate change. And despite the climate crisis being the greatest threat to human health, our economy and human civilisation itself, it’s being denied, downplayed and ignored by those elected and paid to lead us.

Side note…Watch Greta Thunberg’s UN climate change speech. Post continues after video. 

Video by YouTube

I’d signed petitions, shared posts on social media, reduced my personal carbon footprint, even contacted my elected representatives. As the crisis has deepened, our governments have continued to fall short of the vital role they need to play. And I have realised the part I was playing was not nearly big enough.

Then, I became a parent. Suddenly it was deeply personal. The years beyond my own life on this planet became more important than ever.

My son’s tender five years of life have been the five hottest on record. He’ll only be 16 in 2030, when we’ve either saved or condemned ourselves – and him – to our climate futures. I see it as my parental responsibility to demand the necessary urgent political action to solve this crisis.

As parents of young children, we’re all busy. But the daily demands of looking after our children cannot prevent us doing whatever we can to safeguard their future.


This Friday, September 20, students around the world are walking out of school to demand climate action and they’ve asked all of us to stand with them. Our children have the moral ground, and I will stand with them all the way.

We’re running out of time, and I will not waste this precious time simply listening to denial and excuses. The scope and scale of change we need cannot happen without immediate, dramatic action from all sections of society – us as individuals; local, state and federal governments and the private sector.

Yet our Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not attend the emergency UN Climate Action Summit next week. His government continues to deflect and spin the facts, instead of taking meaningful action to transition us to a low-carbon existence.

Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo speak to a 15-year-old girl who organised a school walk out for climate change. Post continues after podcast.

So, reluctant activist that I am, I am now completely convinced that our only way out of this looming catastrophe is for all of us – and I mean ALL of us – to walk the streets in massive shows of people power.

To demand our governments implement the widespread changes necessary to transition to a safe climate future. The UN Secretary General, the Governor of California and Australian politicians telling the truth about climate have begged us to raise our voices to give decision makers the push they need.

They tell us there will be no action without massive, relentless public demand. The time of watching public life from the sidelines is a luxury we can no longer afford. Let’s come together on September 20 to show that the world demands climate justice.

I know that in years to come, our children will ask us what we did to solve the climate crisis. I sure hope they don’t ask us why we failed to solve it, when the solutions were at hand.

If there was ever a time to get off the sidelines and raise your voice, it’s now.

We speak not only for ourselves, but for our children. Will you stand with my son and me on September 20? Will you fight for your children? Reluctant or not, we have no other choice.

All 100 Australian Sept 20 #ClimateStrike events can be found here. 

Marie Carvolth is a coral ecologist, climate campaigner and Mum of a five-year-old boy based on the Gold Coast, Australia. She is a co-founder of Australian Parents for Climate Action and an Al Gore-trained Climate Reality Leader.