Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
Be Inspired by Today’s Powerful, Young Climate Leaders
Let the words of Greta Thunberg, Amanda Gorman and other youth leaders guide your climate action.
Over the past two years, it’s been clear that youth across the world care deeply about global warming. The youth movement and the voices of its powerful young leaders, like Isra Hirsi, Varshini Prakash, and Jamie Margolin in the U.S., Leah Namugerwa in Uganda, and Greta Thunberg of Sweden, have been growing stronger and louder.
So, it is not surprising that a recent “People’s Climate Vote” survey (the biggest one ever conducted on climate change, with over 1.2 million people in 50 countries responding), found that a large majority of those under 18 see climate change as a global emergency. This is compared to only a slight majority of people over 60 responding the same. The youth know it is their future at stake, and they are unwilling to settle for inadequate action.
This is why on January 20th this year, the day President Biden was sworn into office, a group of climate youth leaders from around the world wrote an open letter to the new President and Vice President, demanding that they be bold and ramp up “concrete, immediate, and decisive action immediately…. gradually transitioning towards renewable energy won’t be enough to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement.” They want the new U.S. leaders to “challenge the systems that started the climate crisis” and focus on “climate justice which includes racial justice, gender equality, and equity.”
On that same day we heard from another youth leader, the amazing poet, Amanda Gorman. Her powerfully delivered words of The Hill We Climb inspired many people around the world. While this poem spoke to the political moment of the day, the beginning and ending also apply to the attitude we must take to tackle the climate crisis.
“When the day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, the sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast…
…For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it.
If only we are brave enough to be it.”
What you may not know is that Amanda Gorman is also a climate changemaker. In 2018 she wrote and performed a poem, dedicated to Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project, called Our Purpose in Poetry: Or, Earthrise. In it she describes the impact the first glimpse of our planet from space had on our understanding of the threat to our home. She states clearly and simply in her powerful voice:
“Climate change is the single greatest challenge of our time,…
So I tell you this not to scare you, But to prepare you, to dare you To dream a different reality,
Where despite disparities We all care to protect this world, This riddled blue marble, this little true marvel To muster the verve and the nerve To see how we can serve Our planet. You don’t need to be a politician To make it your mission to conserve, to protect, To preserve that one and only home… That is ours, To use your unique power To give next generations the planet they deserve.”
Towards the end of her long poem, which I highly encourage you to watch and listen to in full, she encourages us to see ourselves as leaders and change-makers:
“Which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly: What can we do? Open your eyes. Know that the future of this wise planet Lies right in sight: Right in all of us. Trust this earth uprising. All of us bring light to exciting solutions never tried before For it is our hope that implores us, at our uncompromising core, To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for."
Are you feeling inspired by Amanda Gorman’s potent words?
If so, I invite you to join me, and all the climate youth leaders around the world already rising for the earth and those who are most at risk and vulnerable to the effects of climate change, to find your way to “bring light to exciting solutions never tried before.”
As Greta Thunberg said in her climate crisis appeal video to the world in December 2020, “Let’s unite and spread awareness. Once we become aware, then we can act. Then change will come. This is the solution. We are the hope. We, the people.”
How will you spread awareness and act on climate today?
I wish you all the best in your climate action,