What I am going to talk about today is an increasingly pressing issue. It affects us, our parents, and our pets. It will affect your children, your futures, and your ambitions. 

The issue is you. Every single one of you reading these words. You are all harming the planet we live on and you need to do something about it. 

How many of you have eaten meat at least 3 times in the past week? How many of you drive or are driven to work or school? How many of you have bought a plastic bottle of juice or water today? How many of you have been online shopping in favour of going to the high-street? How many of you have at least one charger plugged into a socket right now? The list of questions can go on. 

I expect that everyone is guilty of at least one of these things. 

Now, let me entertain you with a few statistics. Annually, around 8 million metric tonnes of plastic are thrown into the ocean; the Great Pacific garbage patch is a gyre of plastic in the Pacific Ocean where the volume of plastic pollution is so great that it is impossible to see the blue of the sea from a satellite image. Another fact: you know those plastic bottles that so many of you drink from? They’re basically in our planet forever. They’ll stay in the world for longer than your grandparents, parents, yourself, and your children combined. A further fact:  in every three-month period, enough aluminium cans are thrown away in America that could rebuild the entire American commercial air fleet. Aluminium cans take 80-200 years in landfills to get completely decomposed. Are your daily cans of coca cola or coffee worth this? A final fact: there are more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere now than at any time in the last 800,000 years. 

As I am confident that you are all very intelligent and capable readers, I am sure you know the catastrophic consequences of the increase in greenhouse gases: Global Warming. Although the rise in temperature of the globe by a few centimetres may seem insignificant, I assure you this isn’t the case. Currently, the sea levels are rising at their fastest rate in 2000 years. This will result in the sinking of cities where some of your family or friends may be living. Prepare to say goodbye to Jakarta, to Manilla, to Shanghai, to Venice, and many more. Our food supplies will dwindle, the cute and fluffy polar bears you see on National Geographic will cease to exist, and we might never experience a typical winter again. 

I’m sure that many of you are sitting in your chair, or standing in the train thinking that what I’m saying doesn't apply to them; that they recycle their plastic and they turn off the lights when they leave a room. That is great. It really is. 

But it is not enough. 

At the rate we’re going, we won’t be going for much longer. We need more people to help. 

I implore you all to implement change. I implore you to eat less meat (perhaps once or twice a week), I implore you to minimise your everyday plastic consumption (choose paper packaging over a plastic bag), and I implore you to make public transport your most frequent mode of travel. 

You may think that it is pointless. Many people do. When I was telling my brother (Kaze McGonigal) about how his daily purchasing of bottles of water is having a detrimental effect on the environment and that he should stop, he asked me, ‘Why does it matter? It’s not as if me stopping will make any difference, the shops will still sell and produce all of the bottles so I might as well buy them’. Like my younger brother, you may be wondering what difference does it make if I shower for 5 minutes less, if I watch 5 minutes less of T.V? Every little bit counts. Imagine if all the people in your classroom or workplace went to bed 5 minutes earlier, turning the lights off 5 minutes sooner. That would save 120 minutes of electricity. Now imagine if your whole building did the same, or your whole street, or even the whole city! This is the same for consumerism. If a few people stopped purchasing plastic bottles or started buying less meat, the demand would decrease and hence the production levels would lower. 

All it takes is for one person to implement a change before the rest will follow. It is in our nature to be sheep. 

So please, if you’re going to take one thing from what I have written, let it be this: we are harming the planet we live in and we need to change. 

If any of you are interested in further reading in relation to the pressing issue of the damage that we are doing to our Earth, I highly recommend these websites: