By: Alyson Peabody, Editor-in-Chief
150 countries held Youth Climate Strikes over the last two weeks. One young woman’s name has been leading the headlines: Greta Thunberg. She is a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist who seeks to hold politicians accountable for their lack of action on the climate crisis. She is organizing global #FridaysForFuture, inviting everyone to speak out about environmental issues.
It is no secret that the conversation about climate change is a controversial one. Some see young activists as puppets to a cause. Others sensationalize the efforts of a single individual, forgetting to recognize the hard work of people outside of the spotlight.
The strides that Thunberg is making are not done alone. There are numerous people working hard to spark legislative action during this time of crisis.
Do you know Autumn Peltier?
Autumn Peltier is a 14-year-old storyteller and was appointed Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation. Peltier is a “water warrior” who was just nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize.
Do you know Isra Hirsi?
Isra Hirsi is 16 years old and is the co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike. She says the climate crisis “is the fight of my generation and it needs to be addressed urgently.” Her mother is Congresswoman Ilhan Abdullahi Omar.
Do you know Xiuhtezcatl Martinez?
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez an 18-year-old indigenous climate activist and hip-hop artist. Martinez is the director of Earth Guardians Youth and has been on the front lines of the global youth-led environmental movement.
These four people are helping lead our generation into a time of reform for climate action.
That is the plan, anyway.
We have immortalized 16-year-olds in history before. Joan of Arc led an army. Anne Frank kept her journal during the Nazi occupation. Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Prize. What makes the work of young people like Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Isra Hirsi, Greta Thunberg and Autumn Peltier any different? Is it the fact that they are speaking out about an uncomfortable subject of a crisis that some people don’t agree is happening?
I have read several statements by climate change deniers who say that the work of scientists, professors and activists are a waste of time. They say that these kids need to stop being so brainwashed by the media. They say that activists who speak up are too young to know what they are talking about.
To that, I have some final questions. If there is no climate crisis, and if climate change is not real, then what is the harm in making changes to live more sustainably? What damage would be done if we all transitioned to renewable energy sources? Other than people not wanting to lose their current way of life, how would the quality of our lives be worse?
150 countries have people marching in climate strikes who believe in caring about the environment. That’s not bipartisan. Taking care of the home shared by 7 billion people is not based on a political party or age.
The Earth isn’t something you believe in. It exists.
It’s time to take care of it.