Hi, I’m Jamie Minden. I’ve been an environmental activist for a few years now, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. But most people who want to get involved (because they don’t want to live on a dying planet) have trouble knowing where to start in activism.
I understand that the idea can be daunting. But rest assured: you don’t have to drop out of school, give up your job, stop wearing shoes or move to San Francisco to become a climate activist. You can if you want, of course, but you don’t have to.
There are plenty of easy things you can do that can work around your schedule. Look up groups like Sunrise Movement, Youth Climate Strikes, 350.org, and Citizens Climate Lobby, and if there isn’t a group in your area, find a few friends and start one.
If you’re not all that into community organizing, how about changing your lived environment into something more sustainable? Replace your gas-burning water heater with an electric one. Explain to your cousin that climate change doesn’t mean the end of snowstorms, it means that the global temperatures are rising at a pace that will eventually make many parts of the Earth uninhabitable.
What about your workplace? Are there ways for you to steer your company in a more sustainable direction? Forbes predicts that the United States’ renewable energy business is worth $3 trillion. Why not cash in on a more sustainable future?
The reality is that grassroots movements have been the cause of virtually all progress on the issue. Pardon my French, but most national governments haven’t done sh*t. So every bit of climate action you see—from recycling collection to the Green New Deal—is the direct result of the tireless work of scores of passionate climate activists. Just normal people like you and me who want to make a difference.
To backtrack slightly, I want to recognize that communities of color have been shunted aside in all of this, too. People of color are disproportionately affected by ecological issues, and yet they have always been the unrecognized leaders of this fight.
People of color defend endangered species from poachers, risk their lives to protect the rainforests, and are arrested in our very own country for protesting developments that threaten to destroy sacred landmarks.
If you’re a person of color who wants to get involved in the climate movement, I want you to know that we hear you. Yeah, you might have to work a little harder to make your voice heard. I’m not going to sugar-coat it: this country has a history of environmental racism and a dishearteningly whitewashed climate movement. But that’s simply why your voice is more important than ever.
Yeah, I’m a white girl, but I stand behind you. Groups like Sunrise and people like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stand behind you. Your voice is important. You deserve to be heard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
We only have 11 years left, so let’s make them count. Let’s give it our all, and put up a good fight. Because once our emissions go past the tipping point, we cannot go back. Our chance is now. Every living person has a responsibility to do their part, no matter how small. Climate change will be the struggle that defines every generation alive today.
While the “greatest generation” had to stand up and fight two world wars head on, we now have no choice but to play the cards we’ve been dealt, and fight for our futures. Look at this from a patriotic standpoint, and do your part for our country. Do your part for our world. I want you to join the climate protection movement.
We hope to see you at our next strike at 2:45pm Friday as we fight for our future. Please visit svyouthclimatestrike.org for more information.
Jamie Minden is a local high school student and co-lead of the Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strike occurring on Friday. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].