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A Fight for the Future

Earth Day is April 22, but young activists are working for climate justice every day—in the streets and in the courts.

A crowd of young people with many holding up signs protest for action to stop climate change.

Leonardo Munoz—VIEWpress/Corbis/Getty Images

Activists in New York City took part in a worldwide event called the Global Climate Strike on March 3, 2023. This was one of many ways in which young people have demanded action on climate change.

On March 17, 2023, young climate activists—many in their teens—gathered outside the Vermont State House. The activists demanded that state lawmakers pass the Affordable Heat Act, a law that would make it more affordable for Vermont residents to switch to heating and cooling systems that produce fewer carbon emissions. But their goals went beyond this single piece of legislation. The protesters wanted state lawmakers to address the climate crisis.

“I’m here alongside my fellow students continuing to demand real, impactful climate action,” said 14-year-old Miriam Serota-Winston, according to VT Digger.

All over the country, teens are fighting to save the planet from the effects of climate change. They protest outside lawmakers’ offices. They march in the Global Climate Strike, a once-a-year day of worldwide youth protests established by young activist Great Thunberg in 2018. They even file lawsuits against governments. 

In fact, young activists have sued several state governments, as well as the U.S. government. Their complaint is that governments aren’t prioritizing the climate, and that the climate crisis violates the right of the people to live in a clean and healthy world.

It’s not an easy fight. Judges have thrown out some of the lawsuits. In one case, Juliana v. United States, 21 young people sued the U.S. government in 2015. Five years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the case. The court said it agreed that the climate crisis is threatening the future. But it said the activists should take up their complaints with presidents, governments, and lawmakers directly instead of using the court system. 

But setbacks haven’t discouraged young climate activists. They’re filing new complaints and appealing court decisions. Climate action will continue. Activists say their very future depends on it.

Did You Know?

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images Entertainment

Denis Hayes speaks at a 2010 climate rally in Washington, D.C.

Earth Day took root thanks to the actions of a young activist. 

Earth Day was established in 1970 by two U.S. senators who wanted to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment. The senators recruited a college student named Denis Hayes to educate other students about environmentalism, which was not as widespread as it is today. Hayes went on to help launch Earth Day events around the United States.

The Problem Solvers

There are so many ways to help address the climate crisis. Teens from around the world are developing technologies that can help. Each year, the Children’s Climate Prize is given to one young innovator. Here are a few of the recent prize winners. 

A teenager from India named Sparsh (he goes by only his first name) invented the thermal floater, a device that converts thermal energy from the Sun into electrical energy so that it can be used to heat buildings.

Reshma Kosaraju, a teen from the United States, created technology that uses artificial intelligence to predict forest fires, increasing the chances that fires can be brought under control before they devastate wildlife.

A young woman poses in front of a green background with a logo of a person holding up a planet.

An American teen named Shreya Ramachandran invented a gray water cleaning system—a system to clean water so that it can be reused.

A young man smiles and holds up a framed document with a name and some text.

José Adolfo, a teen from Peru, came up with a system that lets kids recycle items in exchange for money. The system helps increase awareness about usage and waste.

Edgar Edmund, a teen from Tanzania, started a company that reduces plastic waste by turning plastic bags into building materials.

Children’s Climate Prize, www.ccprize.org

Every Day Is Earth Day

A young woman speaking into a megaphone with other activists in the background.

Jonas Gratzer/Getty Images News

Vanessa Nakate is a young climate activist from Uganda. Nakate is dedicated to increasing awareness about climate change in Africa. Her organization, the Rise Up Movement, provides African climate activists with a platform where they can spread their message. You can learn more about Nakate at Britannica School!

WORD OF THE DAY

indefatigable

PART OF SPEECH:

adjective

Definition:

: able to work or continue for a very long time without becoming tired 

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