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Green Globe

| September 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

Teens march to transform the planet

In late July this year, crowds of teenagers marched in protest through Manhattan in New York City, in the US. Across the country, large groups of their peers marched in solidarity. They carried placards on which were written slogans such as: “Youth for the Sanity of Science,” “Stand up Now! Or Drown Later!” and chanted, “Divest! Defund! These fossil fuels have got to go!” An eight-year-old was spotted wearing a little T-shirt that read “I can change the world”. They were refreshing the public mind about a movement called Zero Hour, started last year by teens frustrated by their government’s inaction when it comes to what they call “climate justice”. The Zero Hour protest group previously demanded that the administration commit to achieving negative carbon emissions by the year 2030. They’ve had no response. The Manhattan marchers were a particularly significant group. That part of the city is full of luxury skyscrapers that emit half the city’s carbon emissions. Marching teens told reporters that their parents generally did nothing to really save the planet. “They’re busy with their lives,” said one teen. Other teens were visibly angry with climate change deniers. The government came under harsh scrutiny, with teens chanting slogans about how politicians are not doing anything about serious climate issues. For many teens who’ve done their homework, the biggest threat is sea-level rise. Said one, “We live on an island. It’s really scary to think it won’t exist in the future.” “Seeing images of coastlines littered with garbage makes me feel disgusting,” said another. Almost all of the marchers who spoke to reporters said they were marching because of “growing up in this time period”. The Zero Hour teens in New York state are currently lobbying the State Assembly to lower the voting age to 17 and to actively register students to vote. Takoma Park (a city in Maryland) secured a lowering of the voting age to 16 in 2013 and Northampton in Massachusetts is soon to follow suit. Many Zero Hour supporters are deadly serious about their goals. One of them is Leela Sotsky, who is gaining a national name for herself. She sits on the youth advisory council for the New York City Climate Museum, which runs climate change programmes. Sotsky told the marching crowd how she had gone head-to-head with a teacher who tried to convince her that global warming isn’t real. One of the things that makes her mad is the lack of political clout teenagers have. “It’s a little sad – they’re too quiet. So that’s what we’re trying to change, and why I’m here,” she said. Another teen determined to make a difference is Ilana Cohen. At the march she said, “Climate change is the greatest threat of the 21st century. Obviously, [in America] we have the highest per-capita carbon emissions in the world. The way we live our lives is affecting people everywhere.” Cohen’s special interest is the climate refugee crisis, and she’s got the numbers down pat. For instance, there will be an estimated 250 million climateinduced refugees around the globe by 2050. Said a New York city teacher (his students learn about the history of environmental negotiations on a global scale), the presence of some his students at the march was heart-warming. It showed a balance, he said, between “a pessimism of the mind and an optimism of will”.

Category: Spring 2018

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