My name is Xiye Bastida, I am a 17-year old climate justice activist living in New York City. When I was a child, I thought climate change was a distant threat that wouldn’t affect us until at least 2100. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Four years ago, I had to leave my home in San Pedro Tultepec, México. Unprecedented rainfall flooded my town, which prevented me from going to school. The climate crisis forced my family to choose, at 13, between staying at home or live in a healthier environment.
The climate crisis is not an ambiguous force that future generations will have to deal with. It defines the reality that we live in today, full of uncontrollable fires, constant flooding, mass displacement, and ecocide.
We need to change our culture, and the way we do that is by shifting the narrative around the climate crisis to be not about far-off threats but rather about the real suffering that people are experiencing now.
The problem I see now, years after moving to New York City and rallying, lobbying, and testifying for climate justice, is that data does not mobilize people. There are thousands of studies and statistics about the increase of plastic pollution, rising sea levels, CO2 emissions, climate migration, air pollution, species extinctions and acidity of the oceans. And while the data are intended to bring awareness and shift our culture of consumerism and compliance into active consciousness, it’s just not working. Change isn’t coming fast enough.
We need to change our culture, and the way we do that is by shifting the narrative around the climate crisis to be not about far-off threats but rather about the real suffering that people are experiencing now. The real suffering that many people have been experiencing for decades. We have to weave personal narratives and climate science together into a powerful narrative that is capable of creating structural change.
So, what do we do right now? We strike.
On September 20th, millions of people across the world will unite to demand meaningful climate legislation. Up to now, youth have been striking alone, but the truth is we need everyone to stand up and say no, we will not stand by and let any more homes be destroyed. We will not let any more people be poisoned by toxic air. We will not let our planet die. Because we are on Earth to take care of life, not to take over.
Stand with us on September 20th. To find a Climate Strike event near you — or host one yourself, go to: https://globalclimatestrike.net.
We can protect life on this planet. We know what the solutions are — we just have to implement them. The problem is that governments have chosen to listen to fossil fuel billionaires rather than protect their people. But we, by acting together, have the power to take our future back.
On September 20th, the whales, the trees, the snow, the rivers, the flowers, the bees, and your children, want YOU to #StrikeWithUs.
Xiye Bastida is a Climate Justice Activist.
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