According to the UN, "temperature rise is only the beginning of the story" when it comes to climate change. Some effects of climate change already being experienced around the planet include flooding, melting polar ice, fires, intense droughts and water scarcity, and more. While it may seem like an insurmountable challenge, these young people have chosen to act now in the fight against climate change. Read about the incredible strides they've made and learn how you can get involved in your community.
Today's Climate Leaders
Who: Greta Thunberg
What: At 15, Greta Thunberg began making waves when she started a school strike against climate change. She spent her days outside of the Swedish parliament building with a sign reading "School Strike for Climate." Though her protest began solo, many other activists quickly joined Greta and similar protests began around the world. Since then, Greta has attended and spoken at numerous international climate panels including the UN Climate Action Summit and COP25. She was named Time's Person of the Year in 2019, won the International Children's Peace Prize, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Notably, Thunberg does not travel by plane, instead making trips by train and boat for their lower carbon emissions.
Who: Nadia Nazar
What: At 14, Nadia Nazar and fellow climate activist Jamie Margolin created Zero Hour, a youth-led climate organization that has led a Youth Climate Summit, a Climate March, and a Youth Climate Lobby Day. Nadia first became interested in environmental activism in middle school when she learned about the threat to endangered species in school. She is currently an art student and creates work that examines the anxiety surrounding climate change.
Who: Xiye Bastida
What: Xiye Bastida grew up with her family in San Pedro Tultepec, a small town in Mexico. A series of climate disasters caused her family to move to New York City, where her environmentalist parents took jobs at the Center for Earth Ethics. At 15, Xiye spoke at the World Urban Forum in Malaysia, sharing a story of developers attempting to build at the edge of a wetland in her hometown. Since then, Xiye has lobbied with classmates, organized hundreds of students at climate strikes, and co-founded Re-Earth Initiative.
Who: Autumn Peltier
What: Autumn Peltier was inspired to work for water conservation at the age of 8 when she attended a ceremony at Serpent River First Nation in Ontario. Signs warning of toxic drinking water shocked Peltier and she recalls this incident as a catalyst for her activism. Peltier first gained attention in 2016 when, at age 12, she confronted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over his water protection efforts. At 13, Peltier made waves again when she addressed the UN about water conservation. In 2019, Autumn was named the Chief Water Commissioner for the Aniishnabek Nation, a position previously held by her great-aunt.
Keep up with Autumn through her Instagram.
If you're feeling inspired by these activists, stand up and act now. Here are some tips to get involved on a local level.
- Read about climate change using the library's resources
- Join your school's ecology or environmental activism club. If there isn't one offered, start your own club.
- Participate in an event with the Michigan Climate Action Network
- Write to your elected representatives with your concerns about climate change. Use My Reps to find your representatives and their contact information.
- Attend meetings of a local climate action group like Washtenaw350
- Discover ways to reduce your own waste and carbon footprint