The Teenagers At The End Of The World

Young climate activists like Jamie Margolin are building a movement while growing up — planning mass protests from childhood bedrooms and during school. Last month, Margolin published a guidebook, “Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It.” In the foreword, the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg writes that it took getting involved with Margolin and the Zero Hour marches in 2018 to realize that she wasn’t alone in being deeply worried about what was happening to the planet on which she still had her entire life to live.

Last fall’s explosion of youth climate marches, school walkouts and media coverage of youth activism has made reforms that seemed next to impossible begin to feel inevitable. Climate change has become a major issue during the 2020 primary season. Candidates’ climate proposals became far more ambitious than they were just a few years before. Many youth climate activists feel that their work is still misunderstood: A diverse movement with dispersed leadership and a complex critique of the racial and economic injustice of climate change gets boiled down to just a few faces and slogans. 

To be a teenager in this moment is, to put it teenagerly, a lot.  A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post found that when it comes to climate change, the emotions that most teenagers report feeling are anger, motivation and, above all, fear — but that they are actually less likely than adults to feel helpless. 

By Brooke Jarvis. New York Times. July 20, 2020

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