Soundscape: A lone male voice in an echoey room.
(a bump against a microphone)
SPEAKER: Dear new upper secondary school graduates. You are our future. My name is Elias Pennanen and I was asked to say a few words on behalf of the alumni of this school.
It’s nice to see so many young faces here in front of me, in the same gymnasium where I stood twenty years ago wearing my white cap.
Thinking back to my graduation day, I remember it as a time of conflicting emotions. I barely matriculated because I had been on strike for most of my senior year. Since you’ve now graduated, I don’t mind explaining to you that, back in my day, young people demonstrated by going on a school strike. We were worried about whether there would be any future for us at all. That’s how bad the state of our planet was at the time.
You might not even remember the time when these things were discussed. When I was young, energy was produced from sources such as crude oil and natural gas. This created carbon dioxide emissions that led to an increase in the Earth’s temperature.
Telling you that carbon dioxide used to be just released into the atmosphere actually makes me feel old. Back then, we just didn’t have the technology to convert carbon dioxide into fuel to power cars and trains. We had this huge anxiety about melting glaciers and rising water levels and there were all these worst-case scenarios about what might happen.
I was pretty active in my youth and that’s why I managed to matriculate. I was really interested in biology and society and that helped me get good grades. I went on to become a researcher in energy science got involved in developing hydrogen storage solutions for storing solar power in tanks in the form of hydrogen. That was state-of-the-art technology back then!
I must say, just looking at you young graduates makes me emotional. If I had the opportunity to send a message to my younger self, it would be to keep the faith and work hard to solve the problems in front of us. That one day, even carbon dioxide will be our friend instead of our foe.
But since I can’t deliver a message to my younger self, I have a message for you: be hopeful about the future! You can fly guilt-free on electric aircraft and eat whatever you want because food is not destructive to the environment anymore. By the way, food is a story in itself, but I’m sure you know your history. So, to all of you: the future is yours and it will be better than our past!
SPEAKER: Thank you