By Makayla Wright | Youth Voice Manager, Soar
I have always been aware of climate change. As a millennial I grew up learning about “global warming” and I often wondered if I would be able to have a future. Now I am 26 and work as the Youth Voice Organizer for Soar and my questions have shifted to “how long do we have” and “what about Generation Z”? This article is an answer to these questions and a call to action for individuals who have experienced the same fear I have.
I want to bring awareness not only to issues of climate change, but its impacts on low income and communities of color. In late 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a shocking report detailing the impacts unmitigated climate change would have on communities across the globe. Since then subsequent reports have detailed how our access to food is at stake and the ways low income communities will be disproportionately impacted.
In order to realize a just society for all, we have to plan for the future we want to see. These reports and other policies have outlined what is possible if we decide on a vibrant future for all individuals. To see this become a reality I propose the following in order to include low income youth of color across America:
- Create a “climate conservation corps” reminiscent of the service corps that came out of the original New Deal in the 1930s. These conservation corps will be composed of young people, especially low income youth, who will create, build, and maintain sustainability solutions for their communities.
- Create access to “green jobs” for low income youth and their communities to ensure that as our economy and energy usage shifts we do not leave low income communities behind.
- Create climate policies around job access, education, health, housing, and more that prioritize the most marginalized low income communities in our country.
These recommendations are aligned with policies like the Green New Deal and the set of policies put out by Governor Jay Inslee. But I know that policy change can feel overwhelming and slow. For the average person who is unable to make a trip to their local state capital or city hall, there are other ways to become involved. This can range from volunteering for groups like the Sunrise Movement, Got Green, or 350. You can also shift your personal habits by recycling more effectively, driving less, carpooling, reducing your meat intake, and more!
But the best way to get involved in the short term is to join young people and their allies tomorrow on September 20th at the global climate strike or by joining the week of action from September 23rd-27th. Tomorrow, young people from across the globe are walking out of their classes to fight for their futures. In order to see a future where all of our communities flourish, we have to step up together. Change is not easy and it can be uncomfortable, but this does not mean that we disengage. The future is ours if we choose to take it, join us tomorrow from 9am-noon. Or join us as we march to city hall from 12:30-3pm. Our young people will be there to show the way and lead us into a bright future.