Gen Z are the Climate Change Gangstas we Need to Support

Generation Z is not here for the BS surrounding climate change.

Literal children are challenging adults who have failed the planet and them by failing to produce solutions they would willingly follow. And these children and teens are letting their leaders know that they will not go along with business as usual.

And that is so gangsta.

Straight hood…Greta Thunberg is the climate leader our time demands. Seriously. This young woman is not here for the BS inept and incapable world leaders are attempting to shovel at her. At 16-years-old, the has already chumped very publicly numerous world leaders, shamed Fox News for labeling her Aspergers as “mental illness”, and snapped back at world leaders, including the current occupant of the White House, during the United Nations Climate Action Summit, saying “How dare you?!”

Of course, not everyone can handle the criticism took Greta’s worlds to heart. Not everyone was moved. Trump, maturely, took to Twitter to tease Thunberg, who, given his previous comments on differently-abled people, had to mock her Asberger’s syndrome. As for the aforementioned Fox News, the network apologized to Thunberg after Michael Knowles (from the Daily Wire) called her a “mentally ill Swedish child.”

Meanwhile, Greta remains unflapped by either criticism or the applause by slinging increasingly dire facts straight from scientific reports, reminding folks that every half-measure on their part will be paid for dearly by her generation.

However, Greta may be getting all of the press but she is certainly not the only young person out to rip climate change deniers to shreds.

Isra Hirsi is a relative newcomer to the climate change fight, and she has already made a massive difference to the cause. During her freshman year, she joined a high school environmental club that she learned how, at its core, climate change affects communities of color the most. She quickly made up for lost time, determined to build an environmental justice movement in which young people of color could see themselves.

In January of this year, Isra founded the U.S. Youth Climate Strike — the American arm of a global youth climate change movement. U.S. Youth Climate Strike launched the same month that Isra’s mother took office. She has been in the climate fight since.

Xiye Bastida, a 17-year-old climate activist based in New York City, but raised in Mexico, witnessed the devastating effects of climate change. Her hometown experienced both extreme droughts and flooding. Following moving to New York about four years ago and seeing the damage done by Hurricane Sandy, Xiye was certain something must be done. Channeling her indigenous roots, Xiye hopes to inspire others to care for the Earth.

“People say the climate movement started decades ago, but I see it as indigenous people protecting Earth thousands of years ago,” she told PBS . “We need to bring [this philosophy] back and weave it into today’s society. People are here not to take over life, but to take care of it. It shouldn’t be ‘we the people.’ It should be ‘we the planet.’”

Currently, Xiye is a leader in the Fridays for Future movement. She has worked alongside Greta to mobilize Gen Z and continues to speak at rallies and town halls to help inspire her generation to make change happen globally.

Mari Copeny may be better known as Miss Little Flint due to her work bringing attention to Flint, Michigan’s ongoing water crisis but her work for water conservation only began there. As an eight-year-old, Mari wrote to President Barack Obama asking if he would come to meet with her and others in her community had been affected by contaminated water. That meeting resulted in $100 million in grants to repair the water system.

Mari now 12 years old, continues to advocate for her community and the environment. Since 2016, Mari has tirelessly worked with the nonprofit organization Pack Your Back, which has helped over 25,000 children with donations for everything from clean water to various school essentials.

Autumn Peltier has been fighting for water rights since she was eight years old. As an internationally recognized Canadian water activist, a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, and The Anishinaabe teen, now 15, Autumn was inspired by her great aunt Josephine Mandamin, a passionate advocate for the protection of the Great Lakes until her death earlier this year. Autumn has taken the mantle of her late aunt’s role as water commissioner. She currently represents 40 First Nations communities across Canada.

“No one should have to worry if the water is clean or if they will run out of water,” Autumn said during her speech to the UN General Assembly in 2018. “No child should grow up not knowing what clean water is, or never know what running water is.”

Seriously, the kids are alright.

This post was originally shared on The Reclaimed Blog.

Whitney Alese is a writer, podcaster and cultural commentator. Featured in WIRED Magazine (September 2020). She is based in Philadelphia.

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