It’s August, and that means that the weather’s getting hot! Well, actually, the whole planet is getting hot and quickly. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has exceeded the maximum amount it has peaked at for millennia by almost 100 ppm, the Earth’s surface temperature has gone up 1.62°F since around 1900, the ice sheets and ocean are warming, water temperatures are rising, and snow cover is decreasing rapidly. While scientists are divided on many issues, global warming is an issue that 97% of publishing scientists agree on, according to NASA. If Ariana Grande trusts NASA, I think we can, too.
For years, companies have done environmentally unsafe business practices without proper regulations. Global warming is inextricably tied to the world-capitalist market that we live in. Just to talk about the tip of the iceberg (that is probably melting), just 100 companies produce 71% of emissions- just 100 companies! Though there is not enough space in this article to talk about the effects of capitalism and current business practices on global warming (that would take a book I’m not qualified to write), I will be talking about amazing female advocates searching for climate change solutions that you should follow!
She’s the young activist everyone’s been talking about- the Swedish, school-striking, sensational spokesperson saving the stratosphere (and the rest of the planet, but the alliteration wouldn’t be as good). At age 11, she found out about climate change and was extremely depressed. Though diagnosed with selective mutism (as well as Asperger’s and OCD), she determined that this was a time where she needed to speak up and take a stand. She gave up meat, flying, and most other practices that cause pollution. After learning about the efforts of the Parkland students to protest gun laws by not returning to school, she was inspired to do the same in order to protest climate change. She striked first until the general election in Sweden in 2018 with demands to reduce carbon emissions, and then decided only to strike on Fridays after she received press coverage. Her protests gained traction, and now they are done by millions worldwide. Fridays for Future has become a worldwide phenomenon, and if you are able to I would encourage participation! She has become one of the most notable figures in climate change solutions activism, as she is such a young activist who decided to use her voice for good. Thunberg has spoken at the UN about environmental policy, she’s been on the news all around the world, and now she plans to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in a zero-carbon sailboat. Follow this climate queen on her Instagram, Twitter, and try to catch her at the UN Summit!
Nguy Thi Khanh
Khan is no beginner when it comes to tackling environmental policy and problems- she has been working to facilitate conscious, sustainable development in the Mekong region of Vietnam while advocating for citizen participation, as well as limiting indigenous and female exploitation. She is currently director of the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID, for short), and has mainly been advocating for cleaner energy sources like water instead of the coal energy that has been expanding slowly in Vietnam. Khanh and GreenID want to give power to the people in the energy sector in order to foster community-driven change for a more sustainable future instead of being coerced by companies to utilize gross coal energy. Before her work more specifically in the climate sector, she worked with indigenous people and as a gender-equality advocate (and still does, since all these issues are so tightly connected). Because of her social awareness, she always makes sure to place the community’s wellbeing at the heart of any environmental policies. In 2018, she was one of the recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize for her accomplishments (also, four out of the five recipients were women, including LeeAnn Walters who we covered here!). She established the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance as well, and she’s just getting started!
Logan-Riley is a young, indigenous activist from New Zealand who led Te Ara Whatu, a group of Maori and Pasifika youths who brought an indigenous perspective to climate change solutions, legislation, and policy. In capitalism, indigenous peoples are frequently thrown to the wayside or exploited, and Logan-Riley and the rest of the group had enough. For example, indigenous people in the Arctic are losing the precious resources they rely on for hunting due to the ice melting. A larger list of global warming effects on indigenous populations can be found here. Thus, they attended the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2017. In this interview, Logan-Riley details the struggles that her community has had to face because of climate change- wildfires, snow (for the first time ever at sea level!), and ocean life moving further from shore, which lead to higher near-drowning rates. She and her companions are making strides in ensuring that indigenous demands and requests, territories and cultural practices, and populations are maintained and taken into account when making environmental policy towards climate change solutions. Additionally, she would like to see a solution for indigenous communities by indigenous communities, relying on adequate repatriation and distribution of resources to these groups. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to keep ups decolonizing climate change icon!
India is one of the largest contributors to pollution, just behind the United States and China. Ridhima Pandey is an Indian citizen who, at just 9 years old, filed a lawsuit against the Indian government for not taking the proper action. I don’t know about you, but at 9 years old, the only thing I was worried about was playing Pokemon. I mean, kids nowadays have more to worry about, but still- she’s an admirable young activist! Her home region of Uttarakhand has been plagued with environmental disaster, and instead of relying on others to take some sort of action, she has decided to sue the government for not working towards the promises for environmental policy they made when they signed the Paris Agreement. She is advocating for the switch to cleaner energy and the protection of wildlife and plants to limit India’s emissions. Besides calling out the government’s inaction and complicitness, Pandey has drawn attention to climate change by making such sensational headlines. I mean, let’s be honest- a child suing and entire government for anything is super interesting, and definitely badass. Though she is just a young activist right now, she has support from organizations such as Our Children’s Trust, and plans to keep making waves in environmental activism until she is old enough to make formal changes by herself. Keep an eye out for her, because she’s really incredible!
Stella Gama is a Malawian gender equality activist, climate advocate, and overall baddie. She currently acts as Malawi’s Director of Forestry in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining. In addition to this already demanding position, she participates in various capacities in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The main focus of her work is making sure that populations most frequently and most intensely affected by climate change have an advocate for them when creating environmental policy. Women are more affected by climate change than other genders, and poor people are also more affected than rich individuals who can offset costs for resources better. Since the majority of the people in poverty are women, Gama recognizes the urgency and importance in having their voices represented. As has been common in most governing bodies throughout history, women have been- you guessed it- horribly represented or barred from even participating in decisions. She specifically heads the Least Developed Nations group for the UNFCCC, in order to advocate for women that are the most underrepresented. Gama wants to bring women’s voices specifically to the forefront, pushing for equal gender representation in policy-making decisions and official law making. Gama says that since women depend more on “climate-sensitive resources” for their lives and jobs, it is imperative that they should be included in climate change solutions policy decisions. Even though the Earth is heating up, Gama keeps her cool doing all these jobs and kills all of it!
How We Can Support
While some of their campaigns may not have direct donation options, if you want to participate in their efforts you can try to live a more sustainable life yourself. It’s definitely true that one consumer cannot make as much change as a whole corporation changing to more sustainable practices (as they should- I’m looking at YOU, 100 companies causing the downfall of Earth), if everyone lives a more sustainable lifestyle we can still at least reduce a good chunk of emissions. Try shopping sustainably like thrifting, buying from sustainable and/or ethical brands, using public transportation, eating less meat and dairy, and try to minimize plastic by buying reusable versions of the items you’d normally use plastic for. If you don’t have the monetary means to make these replacements, that’s ok- try your best to cut out/change what you can, but don’t overextend your finances. Or, you could try and support these efforts by participating in their protests or making your own protest! Check out this guide here by the ACLU. No matter how you decide to be more sensitive to climate change, every little bit counts!