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Our world is quickly evolving whether we want it to or not. We see it in social revolutions, economic meltdowns, and an environment made increasingly unstable by the effects of climate change. Rising temperatures worldwide are causing erratic weather patterns and the melting of the world's glaciers resulting in heat waves, droughts, flooding, rising sea levels, crop failures and fresh water shortages.

But there’s still hope. Around the world young people are banding together, and with their passion, knowledge, dedication and creativity, they’re working hard to change the policies and mindsets around them to achieve their dream of a green, sustainable world.

For the past few years I’ve been working on and filming a documentary (called "An Inconvenient Youth") on the global youth climate movement and I’ve been lucky enough to befriend and get to know a number of these inspiring activists. Here are five young people from around the world I’d like to share with you.


EARTHKEEPER HERO:
GLOBAL YOUTH CLIMATE MOVEMENT
by Slater Jewell-Kemker

Kyle Gracey at SustainUS booth at COP16 in Mexico (Slater Jewell-Kemker)

Kyle Gracey - SustainUS: US Youth for Sustainable Development

What is the most important action people can take in their own lives in the fight with climate change?

Speak up! Tell your elected officials, tell your friends, write to your newspaper, tell companies, educate your kids - climate change is getting worse - There are clean energy solutions - We need to invest in them now in a much bigger way than we have so far. Keep speaking up in front of everyone you can. Ask them to join you.

Environmental hero?

Marshall Ganz, master grassroots movement organizer, because he is a bringer together of people, more than an environmentalist or champion of any one cause. Just like climate change is about more than the environment, or a specific group of people, or technology, or economics - it is about the extraordinary collective power of regular people. Marshall Ganz helps people to understand and use their power as a society.


Alina Pokhrel and Slater Jewell-Kemker during COP (Slater Jewell-Kemker)

Alina Pokhrel - Nepalese Youth for Climate Action

What is the most important action people can take in their own lives in the fight with climate change?

Two things actually-
1. Do what you can and should do. Climate change requires clumsy solutions slash everybody doing his part - the government making greener legislation, businessmen and industrialists creating greener jobs, civil society creating awareness, I/NGOs implementing more capacity building projects and all of us leading a green life. I keep saying this, and I'll say it again here- when a lot do a little, a lot gets done.

2. Have a positive mindset. It's easy to dismiss all our arguments with a shrug. It's easy to be cynical about the outcomes of our 'clumsy solutions'. But it takes real courage to believe in the fact that all our actions will yield results. In this age of 'instant' messages and 'instant' coffee, we all seek instant gratification and instant results, but patience is a virtue, and patience rewards.
Also, someone wise once said this, can't remember who but I think it's applicable here too- to win one should never quit, because the one who quits will never win. And we all want to win this fight against climate change, don't we all?

Environmental heroes?

The people in Nepal. I find their lives the most innocent way of living. They're made of the land and they live with the land. And they are the most affected when the wrath of the changing climate finds them. Yet they're living. And even have devised communal ways to adapt. But that is not enough. I wonder how many of them are consulted with before countries at the microphones, negotiating what turn their lives should take next. This can’t be a bottom-up approach. I keep questioning myself: Can’t I, as someone who’s got such a strong support system and access to so many resources, actually do something to make their voices heard? And that's how I'm inspired to work for them, for this environment, for this planet. They are definitely my heroes.


Danny Hutley and fellow UKYCC delegates at COP16 (Danny Hutley)

Danny Hutley - UK Youth Climate Coalition

What is the most important action people can take in their own lives in the fight with climate change?

Communicate.

Ask yourself what you love about the world.

Is it your friends & neighbours? Is it immersing yourself in a new culture? Maybe you love watching wildlife documentaries or you care a lot about creating a fairer world for those born into poverty? Perhaps it's cheap public transport to visit your mum, or living in a country that can make it's own energy independently? How about your children?

Some of these things will be threatened by climate change. Some of these things will be affected by the choices your politician or business is making now. Which ones do you think will be affected?

Can you imagine a more beautiful world? A fairer, cleaner or safer world? What do you want the future to look like for you and your children? What decisions do you want politicians and businesses to make now to create this better world?

Now you are ready to tell your politicians; go and tell businesses in your area. Tell your local paper, your Facebook wall, blog or webcam. Tell people you meet and neighbours you bump into. Tell your friends and tell your family.

And one by one, you'll share that vision. That's how we'll get there.

Who is your environmental hero and why?

My environmental hero is Tamana from Japan. She's not famous, she is a student I met whilst travelling in the Philippines. I have a great admiration for people who can take complicated and confusing theories and transform them into words which sound like poetry. She was one of those people. I learnt from her to go out and look for people to talk to, to find people in different circumstances to me who are not normally listened to, and listen to them. She has learned so much about how people view their changing environment by just listening to people, and is able to communicate this depth of experience to people she meets. I wanted to be like that, so I started to collect the stories of people I met into short videos, and Tamana was the first one I wanted to hear from: http://drhutley.wordpress.com/climate-letters/


Slater interviews Yiting Wang at COP16 in Mexico, (Jared Schy)

Yiting Wang - China Youth Climate Action Network

What is the most important action people can take in their own lives in the fight with climate change?

I think the start is that people act more mindfully and consciously of the choices they make, from everyday routine that determines their personal environmental footprint, to politicians and policy choices that have greater effect on combating climate change. Be mindful of how these choices causes inequality and inequity of people including future generations who will be affected by climate change unproportionally.

Who is your environmental hero and why?

Vandana Shiva - environmental activist and ecofeminist, most famous for her campaign on water rights.

For inalienable defense of the earth ecosystems, whose exploitation and destruction by the powerful interests deeply deprive ordinary people's lives. She bases her activism on science and tackles the struggle at its core -- the inequity and injustice that have plagued our society and nature.


Gadir Lavadenz (Slater Jewell-Kemker)

Gadir Lavadenz - Bolivian Youth Climate Movement

What is the most important action people can take in their own lives in the fight with climate change?

The most important action is a change of perspective. If we can change the way we see our world then we can change the attitude we have towards it. What do we think of when we think of earth? Its distance to the sun, its volume perhaps? It´s certainly a lot more than that...it´s our home, it´s our mother. So, if we can see the earth as our Mother, then we can certainly respect it enough to change our attitude and start living with and not out of, living well, instead of living better.

Who is your environmental hero and why?

Every person who does something to respect our Mother Earth is my hero. We cannot depend on politicians, scientists, or genius, we have to depend on us because we can make the change.



Written by Slater Jewell-Kemker
Photos courtesy of An Inconvenient Youth
Images created by Slater Jewell-Kemker
Last changed on: 4/11/2011

An Inconvenient Youth AN INCONVENIENT YOUTH is a documentary that gives a voice to kids on the front lines of climate change. Set against stunning visuals of a planet in crisis, we tell the untold stories of youth around the world standing up for a green, sustainable future they refuse to let slip away.

SustainUS U.S. Youth for sustainable development.

UK Youth Climate Coaltion UK youth united for a clean energy future.

350.org 350.org is an international campaign that's building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis—the solutions that science and justice demand. Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

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