• Flux Magazine

Government Inaction Leads to New Wave of Youth Activism towards the Climate by Jeffrey Aviña

It is no understatement when teenagers comment on how they haven’t been pleased with the way that President Trump’s White House has been handling problems, especially the climate. This weekend, young people from across the country are meeting in Miami, Florida for the Youth Climate Summit. The youth-led weekend of protest is being organized by a group of 25 teenagers apart from the 'This Is Zero Hour,’ an international climate advocacy organization that concentrates on justice for the environment, climate change included. The youth leaders in charge of the event seek to create a higher sense of urgency amongst the Miami community, one of the most at-risk cities due to the results of global warming. The ultimate goal for the summit is to spark enough awareness to start a new chapter of ‘This Is Zero Hour’ in Miami. While being the most recent display of climate activism from youth leaders in recent memory, the climate summit is by far not the first of its kind.

In 2016, 21 individuals ranging from ages 9 to 20 began filing legal proceedings to sue the Federal Government for not doing enough to stop/reverse climate change. The case itself is based on the premise that the Government knowingly understood the threat posed to current and future generations and remained complacent in efforts to stop it. Consequently infringing on the constitutional right to life and liberty for an entire generation. Although in the case of advocacy groups, one of the plaintiffs also is bringing more to the table than anybody could’ve expected.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is an indigenous climate activist who first spoke on the subject of climate change as a six-year old boy. Now 19, Martinez works as the youth director of ‘Earth Guardians,’ an organization aimed at training diverse youth to be effective leaders in the fight against climate change through the use of art, music, and storytelling (an organization that Martinez also is the founder of). As well as spreading messages of resistance, battling oppression, and welcoming the unity of people through his music. He and his sister, Isa, are both budding Hip-Hop artists striving to expand climate-conscious music to the ears of those who need to hear it.

So what does this all mean? On its face, it shows us that we are heading in the right direction towards ideas of sustainability and change, no doubt essential for the continued growth of civilization. It could even be alluding that maybe we might not have to worry for future generations because they seem to know what they are doing and that there are leaders among them that give hope to others every day. Allow me to ask a different question then, will it all be for nothing?

The world is nearing the critical point of no return that signifies the point at which the Earth will be damaged beyond repair and there are still those in government who do not believe that the idea of climate change even exists. If things continue how they are, there won’t be anything that we can do to help future generations. What we once knew the Earth to be will become a distant memory, a ghost story. The next generation will be forced to live in an entirely new reality and will hold those who do nothing, accountable. 

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