Climate change is more than just greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere. It is rising water levels, food shortages, and extinctions of both animals and humans. It is more damage to a people who have had no part in destroying this world. According to the latest IPCC report, “Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.”
This summer I participated in the Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program with the Nature Conservancy, where they take various students from vocational schools and place them around the country to learn more about conservation and expose them to scenery they may have never seen before. It was eye-opening. The beauty that Connecticut has to offer is breathtaking and until this July, I had never truly experienced it. I speak from experience when I say that when you take teenagers and put them in the middle of nature, you will leave them awestruck. People think that teenagers don’t care, that they have no interest in the world around them, but that’s not true. Sure, I may be different than most young people. Most of my friends will tell you I’m not the average teenager, but I am a teenager. And this summer, I was with other girls who aren’t like me, who were just as awestruck as I was.
I think people forget that this planet is not just filled with adults but young people too. And one day, none of the adults who are here who created this problem and so far have failed to act, will be here. It is the job of the young people, our job, to clean this planet up and nurse it back to health. It is important that we understand that now. Teenagers will care if you give them a chance. Really emphasize the fact that eventually this struggle for life and security will be ours to fight. Forget the stereotype. View us as apprentices. Share new information with us. Don’t just hear our ideas, but really listen to them. Give us the opportunity and watch us rise to the occasion. I guarantee that we will astound you.
The time to act is now, and the People’s Climate March is a groundbreaking step in the right direction. I call on my fellow students, my fellow young people to join us in New York City on the 21st. Let’s stand together, take responsibility, and demand action.
Photo: Sydnee Odei-Ntiri, a senior at Sound School in New Haven, addressed fellow students at a press conference about the People’s Climate March called by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. Her remarks explain why she and other youth are participating. Photo courtesy of Lisa Bergmann.