Climate Dispatches: Youth and climate activism
Truckee is known as an amazing mountain town with a strong reliance on the environment and a culture centered around the natural world. There are incredible views, epic snow years, beautiful mountain lakes and so much more. The majority of youth in the Truckee area are involved in a diverse range of outdoor sports and activities and many share the strong connection and love for the area that defines so many Truckee citizens. However, in the last decade, climate change has risen as a pressing issue that affects all areas of our everyday lives. Our little town of Truckee is not exempt, as seen with devastating wildfire and smoke seasons, sporadic and extreme snowstorms and heatwaves, earlier melting of the snowpack, droughts, low lake levels and declining natural habitats.
We’ve both grown up in Truckee, and have watched these issues become more pressing and relevant throughout our youth. Fire season is now a dreaded time of packing evacuation bags, constantly checking the AQI, canceling sports, and an overall depressed mood. Walking local trails, there isn’t nearly as much diversity in plant life, and oftentimes a new development has completely taken the place of a previously flourishing ecosystem. This makes us sad and anxious about what the future holds, but more than anything, alarmed and furious. We aren’t the only ones.
Our young generation has grown up with the looming threat of climate change and has witnessed the effects all throughout our lives. Following this increase in awareness of climate change has been an increase in climate activism, especially seen in youth. Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist who is known worldwide for organizing climate strikes and challenging world leaders, is just one example of the many young pioneers taking a stand on climate issues. In fact, a study by the United Nations concluded that an estimated 89% of youth think that young people can make a difference on climate change. That 89% has the right idea: Youth can have an enormous impact on solving this problem.
It can be stressful or overwhelming thinking about the effects climate change will most likely have on our future, and young people often feel a lack of power to make change. However, youth are not only valuable contributors to climate action because of their tenacity and skillset, but because they are able to present a unique perspective on the issue. The future of young people ultimately depends on the state of the future environment and the action we take now on climate change. This is a crucial advantage young people have in talking to government officials about climate action. Officials listen to young people. Officials care about what young people think because they are the future.
However, one voice alone may not make a difference, which is why youth all over the world who care about the climate need to act.
Even little changes can make a big difference. Things as small as eating meatless once a week, recycling at home, or joining an environmental club can help combat this overwhelming issue. Citizens Climate Lobby is another easy way to get involved.
Right now Citizens Climate Lobby is working on promoting the addition of a corporate polluter tax on carbon emissions, which is still on the table in the Senate, into budget reconciliation legislation. Congress is still working on this legislation, despite media reports to the contrary. A tax on carbon, especially if the proceeds are distributed to American households monthly as a “carbon cashback” dividend, could reduce America’s carbon pollution 50% by 2030 and help us achieve net-zero by 2050. It will encourage the switch to clean energy and create thousands of new clean energy jobs.
So this is an important time for everyone, especially youth, to voice their support for strong climate action with a corporate polluter fee and carbon cashback dividend included. This is why contacting your members of Congress and President Biden in support of climate action and legislation, which only takes about ten minutes, is so important. You can do it easily at citizensclimatelobby.org/get-loud-take-action/.
That’s all it takes. A short amount of time, a little effort, or making small conscious changes to your everyday routine. Every action matters.
Laurel Anderson is an 11th grader at Truckee High School. As a leader of the Tahoe Youth Action Team of the North Tahoe Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, a member of the Envirolution club at THS, and a volunteer with Friends of the River, she has gained a great appreciation and love of the environment. Other than her environmental work, she enjoys playing soccer, spending time with friends and family, reading, and spending time outdoors
Keira Scott is in 10th grade at Truckee High School. She is a member of Envirolution Club at THS and the Tahoe Youth Action Team. When she’s not doing climate work, you can find her cross country skiing, reading, running, and doing almost anything in the great outdoors
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