In a Guardian interview, Isha Clarke says she’s been inspired by student climate strikes in the UK and is planning one in the US
Isha Clarke, 16, was one of several young activists seen in a viral clash with California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Isha Clarke hasn’t been to school in five days – thanks to the Oakland teachers’ strike – but the 16-year-old is finding herself busier than ever.
Clarke was one of several young people seen in a viral standoff with the California Senator Dianne Feinstein over climate action. Despite criticism of the senator’s seemingly dismissive reaction, Clarke tells the Guardian the moment was “instrumental in moving the Green New Deal forward”. The video, which made the internet rounds over the weekend, was filmed Friday during a meeting between Feinstein and children, teens and parents involved in various Bay Area activist groups, including Youth vs. Apocalypse, 350.org, Bay Area Earth Guardians and the Sunrise Movement.
The group was hoping to convince Feinstein to vote yes on the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward J Markey. “I think that the meeting, though disappointing, was super important,” Clarke said. Feinstein resisted promising a yes vote on the Green New Deal in favor of her own resolution. But Clarke credits the meeting with fueling new activism. This week, Sunrise activists poured into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.
Clarke says Feinstein’s reaction in the video is beside the point.
“I want politicians to not only vote yes when it comes down to the vote, but to also be very clear to the larger public that they are in support of the Green New Deal,” she said. “There’s still this kind of fantastical connotation that comes with when you talk [with politicians] about climate change and the climate crisis. We need politicians to recognize and actually speak on the fact that climate change, and this climate crisis that we’re facing, is a real issue. And it’s something that we need to address right now.”
Although Clarke was offered an internship in Feinstein’s office at the conclusion of the Friday meeting, she says that the offer is a distraction from the real issue.
“A lot of people have used [the internship offer] to, like, change the whole encounter, you know?” Clarke said. “We had this whole super-heated, powerful exchange, and then people were saying, ‘but it ended like on a happy note, one of the kids even got an internship!’ That’s defeating the whole purpose of why we were there.”
The Green New Deal “is really the only thing right now that accurately addresses the climate crisis, and that aligns with science”, Clarke said. “We have to be putting our energy in passing it.”
Clarke said she had been inspired by the student climate strikes in the UK and other parts of Europe – she’s a self-described “fangirl” of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen activist. Clarke said she was helping to organize a student climate strike in the US on 15 March, though logistics were still being worked out. Since the meeting with Feinstein, who did not respond to a request for comment, Clarke’s schedule has been packed with interviews and political organizing.
“The truth is that young people are going to be at the forefront of the climate crisis if nothing is done. We are the people who are directly affected. And the people who are directly affected in any issue should be at the forefront of the movement to change it,” she said.
More on how today's youth are stepping up in a big way around the world:
-'Biggest case on the planet' pits kids vs. climate change. A pioneering lawsuit against the U.S. government has won the right to a trial, overcoming the Trump administration's efforts to cancel it in court. (Kids sue the US government over climate change.) (OP: I don't know why National Geographic assume anyone downloading their articles' pictures is violating copyright, but I was going to put a picture and couldn't. There is such a thing as fair use, honestly, which is all I am going for with this post. How annoying.)
-The wisdom of youth: On climate change, adults should listen to young voices. Young activists around the world, including in Manitoba, are fighting for the planet's future.
-Climate change strike: thousands of school students protest across Australia. ‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ brings thousands of students together in defiance of prime minister’s warning.
-Children's climate rallies gain momentum in Europe.
-MPs debate climate after school strike – but only a handful turn up. Government benches mostly empty for debate inspired by schoolchildren’s climate strike. (In the UK.)
(Discussing the youth movement against climate change, taking place around the world.)
-Can 'climate kids' take on governments and win?
(Among others, this article discusses a case in Colombia: "In Colombia, 25 young people between the ages of 7 and 26 successfully sued the Colombian government, arguing that its failure to reduce deforestation in the Amazon threatens their constitutional rights to a healthy environment, life, food and water. In April, Colombia's Supreme Court gave the government five months to come up with an action plan to reduce net deforestation to zero".)
(Another two examples from the same article, in India and Pakistan: "In Pakistan and India, two young girls have also filed petitions against their respective governments, arguing that they have been adversely impacted by climate change. Rabab Ali, through her father, environmental attorney Qazi Ali Athar, filed a climate change petition against the federation of Pakistan and the province of Sindh in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in April 2016, when she was just 7 years old. The petition argues that the continual use of fossil fuels — particularly from the mining and burning of coal to produce electricity — has adversely impacted the youngest generation's right to a healthy life. Nine-year-old Ridhima Pandey filed a petition before India's National Green Tribunal in March 2017, asserting that the Indian government has failed to implement emissions reductions policies and mitigate climate change. However, both cases have yet to proceed to trial.")
-#YouthStats: Environment and Climate Change.
-Robert Redford urges youth to join battle against climate change before it is too late.
OP: Let's act against climate change!