The Climate Kids

The temperature isn’t the only thing that’s rising: A new generation of young activists is emerging and taking over stewardship of the fight against the climate crisis.

August 30, 2019

12:56 pm

A dire UN report on the climate crisis issued last October warned that, if governments, industry, and global citizens do not make dramatic changes to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, we face disastrous and irreversible consequences.

When we do reach the year 2030 — 11 years from now — the world will effectively and symbolically belong to a new generation, one that is now just starting to realize the power it has to effect change. And in that new generation, a number of voices are emerging, representing an environmental focus and perspective that is sorely lacking among current, older leadership. A leadership that, for example, still espouses skepticism that climate change even exists.

The temperature isn’t the only thing that’s rising. This new generation is one of the most politically vocal in some time, and includes such standout youthful leaders as Greta Thunberg (16), Xiye Bastida (17). Katie Eder (19), Haven Coleman (13), Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (19), Isra Hirsi (16), Alexandria Villaseñor (14), Slater Jewell-Kemker (25), and Melati and Isabel Wijsen (18 and 16, respectively).

With International Youth Day (#YouthDay) just behind us — an observance that “serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth” — we at Earth’s Call thought this was a good time to namecheck these young climate super stars and salute their work.

Many of these environmental all stars were in attendance for the curtain-raising of Earth’s Call in Aspen this past May, including Jewell-Kemker, Coleman, Martinez, and the Wijsen sisters, as were many others.

Jewell-Kemker comes by her veteran status among this cohort honestly: she is a filmmaker who started making films about the global youth climate movement when she was 15. The Wijsen sisters of Indonesia were honored by CNN as part of the network’s annual “CNN Heroes” program, and their campaign has subsequently led to the banning of plastic bags on their home island of Bali. Martinez, a rapper and performer with a growing profile, is one of the leaders of Earth Guardians, a global movement for youth-led environmental action, which launched a new environmental app at Earth’s Call.

When Greta Thunberg completed her cross-Atlantic Ocean journey by sailboat this week, she was greeted at the North Cove Marina in Lower Manhattan by an enthusiastic crowd of welcoming young people, as well as adults. New York City locals Alexandria Villaseñor (who is a Fridays for Future organizer and the founder of Earth Uprising) and Xiya Bastida, Fridays for Future - NYC organizer, were there to meet her and participated in Thunberg’s first U.S. press conference. Today, Thunberg joined Villaseñor and Bastida at the weekly Friday 11 am demonstration outside the United Nations building.

September is a critical month for many of these activists, as UN Week and Climate Week NYC both kick off on September 23.

Intersecting with these two auspicious events will be two global climate strikes, one on September 20th, and one on September 27th. The goal of the strikes is a call to action to motivate public policy makers, businesses, and citizens of the world to rise to the challenge.

The two strikes, organized by different groups, have joined forces on one website to better reach a larger audience. The video message on the website’s home page, which features Thunberg as the lead voice, notes that “This shouldn’t be the children’s responsibility. Now the adults also need to help us” by striking from their places of work on September 20th or 27th.

For organizing young people and adults in the U.S., the Future Coalition is hosting the StrikeWithUs.org website, coordinating more than 30 youth organizations’ actions. Earth’s Call Fund is proud to be a supporter for Future Coalition's #StrikeWithUs campaign, along with the Wallace Global Fund. 

Visit these websites, and learn how you can participate — either by striking on one or both days or by organizing a strike of your own.

The Earth’s Call team will also be in NYC to support the September 20 strike and attend Climate Week events. Let us know if you will be there by dropping a line to info@earthscall.org.

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