As I stood in the New York streets last Friday, surrounded by more highschoolers than I likely had been since I was in high school myself--two things became clear. One-the last thing these climate-protesting kids want is your hope. They are demanding action. Second-we have reached a breaking point. Our children are taking to the streets to claim a future that is not certain.
The clearest expression of this generation’s justifiable impatience came from teen activist Greta Thunberg: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Greta told the United Nations this week. “And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Of course, Greta is far from the only teen stepping up. Teens and young people from communities across the globe have been sounding the alarm for years. Autumn Peltier is a 13-year-old Anishinaabe girl from the Wikwemikong First Nation who plans to speak to world leaders about the rights of water at the United Nations next spring. Isra Hirsi a co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and daughter of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar connects the climate crisis to the fight for black lives. 18-year-old indigenous climate activist and hip-hop artist Xihutezcatl Martinez, is a powerful leader. He serves as Youth Director with Colorado-based Earth Guardians; along with 18 other young people, he is suing the government for inaction on climate change.
While it is incredible to see these teens step up, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for cooler, younger heads to prevail. One thing these Generation Y leaders know is that it is time to act boldly, to leave politeness at the door and do what it takes to solve the climate crisis.
Lucky for you, if you are here in Washington state, there are ways to get involved right now:
Sign up to fight Tim Eyman’s I-976. Initiative 976 is yet another bad idea from the infamous Tim Eyman. If the initiative passes, it would devastate our already strained transportation system by cutting funding for road and transit projects from Spokane to Seattle, Bremerton to Zillah and all points in between. It would be a disaster for the climate. Learn more here.
Join the fight for a Green New Deal. Young people know that to change everything, we’ll need to change our society from top to bottom. Join in the campaign spearheaded by the Sunrise movement. Sign up here!
The world’s largest methanol refinery, proposed on the Columbia River in Kalama, would spell disaster for Washington state. The facility would use millions of gallons of water from the Columbia River daily, pollute the air with cancer-causing toxins, and could explode during an earthquake. Find out more and get involved here!
Oppose the LNG Facility in Tacoma - According to the Puyallup tribe The project will cost a whopping $275 million to be paid by ratepayers, LNG is deeply dangerous. (A facility Plymouth, WA exploded in 2014), and despite the fact the project is being on the ancestral homeland of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, they have not been consulted. Take action with the Puyallup Tribe here.
If, like me, you were brought to tears this past Friday, listening to our youth calling out, seeing crowds swell to the hundreds of thousands in New York City, and Berlin, and Sydney, now is our time to act. If you listen to the voices of young people, they are asking us to do what science and these times demand of us. Because as it stands right now, they won’t have that choice if we wait any longer.
Izzy Goodman is the Organizing Director at Fuse Washington and has been organizing for more than a decade in the climate movement, officially making her "one of the olds"....