Growing up with Earth Day celebrations, being taught about climate change in school, and hearing climate legislation brought up in politics throughout their lives have all dramatically changed the way that youth view energy consumption and the climate crisis. Today’s youth are concerned with the effects that climate change has on their own lives and will have on their future. Young people are becoming more involved in climate action, both politically and individually.
Politically, many youth activists have taken action for climate in the last few years. Following the lead of Greta Thunberg striking from school to demand action on climate change, students all around the world skipped
In September 2019, Boston Climate Strike brought together more than 10,000 people who gathered at the State House, demanding that climate change become a priority. A group of people, all under 20 years old, spent the summer planning the event and writing up the strike demands. At the strike itself, Boston Climate Strike, recently renamed MA Youth for Climate Justice, invited all people under 20 to join them in the fight against the climate crisis. (If you’re over 20, you can still make a difference as there are many other organizations you can join.)
Youth climate organizations have only grown since then. Youth centered organizations like School Strike for Climate, Future Coalition, and the Sunrise Movement have made impacts in both local and national elections. In 2020 the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots movement demanding good jobs for all in the transition to clean energy, contacted more than 6.5 million voters in both primaries and the general election. Text and phone banking get-out-the-vote campaigns propelled the largest youth turnout in history for the 2020 elections.
The transition to green energy is another important solution to the climate crisis that youth today cares passionately about. Some school programs are helping to make the transition from fossil fuels to green energy smoother. Minuteman High School, a regional vocational and technical school located in Lexington, MA, has been training students to work with emerging technologies that focus on clean energy and energy efficiency. The electrical and carpentry vocational majors worked with a local technology startup company, SolaBlock, to learn how to create energy efficient structures using their new green technology. SolaBlock produces concrete bricks that are also individual solar panels. Minuteman students worked with SolaBlock to learn how to install the bricks into walls and structures, creating self-sustaining buildings. As SolaBlock gets ready for commercial use, there will be new people in the workforce, already trained to use it. With youth learning how to use these new technologies, green energy consumption is being made much more accessible.
Many young people have adapted to make individual change in their lives as well. Rather than fighting for comprehensive climate legislation, many teenagers have adopted plant based diets, helped clean up their own communities, and planted trees as ways to limit their carbon footprint.
If you’re looking to join in and make a difference to restore our earth this Earth Day, there are two main things that you can do:
Reduce your individual carbon footprint
• Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation when possible
• Download the Sense app and set a goal to increase your energy efficiency by 15%
• Opt for plant-based food when you can, and limit your meat and dairy consumption
• Buy produce farmed locally rather than imported goods
Take political action
• Join a climate action group near you
• Contact your representatives to sign onto and vote for climate action bills
• Vote for politicians that care about fixing the climate crisis and have comprehensible climate plans
The youth are taking action and so can you! Check here for more information about Earth Day 2021.
Hannah Bardei contributed this blog. This spring, Hannah has been working as a Sense intern through a program at Minuteman High School in Lexington, Massachusetts.