“Stop Talking, Start Planting!”
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REPOSTED From Earthfix
“I’m here to draw the line because my future is on that line,” says Gabriel Mandell, 11, a climate justice ambassador at a recent rally in Seattle.
credit: Plant-for-the-Planet Seattle
SEATTLE — Gabriel Mandell is standing on stage at a recent anti-climate rally at a Seattle park squeezed between the railroad tracks and Elliott Bay.
“We’re on the fossil fuel nightmare express hurtling into a future we do not want,” he yells into the microphone. “To get off this train before it gets too far down the tracks, we have to stop Keystone XL! We have to stop the coal trains!”
The crowd of hundreds cheers in agreement.
Mandell’s voice is big and booming, but the rest of him is quite small.
He’s 11 years old, just starting middle school. And he’s flanked by a handful of other adolescents, kids who call themselves climate justice ambassadors.
“We want you to look at our faces to remind you why we need to draw the line against fossil fuel exports in the Northwest,” Mandell says to the crowd.
Mandell and his crew are part of a growing number of children worldwide who are asking adults and governments to take action to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A recent Unicef study (pdf) found that children around the world will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change. The study points out that children growing up today will experience first hand effects of climate change in the form of increased droughts, floods and storms. In the 10 most vulnerable countries, including India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, there are 620 million children under 18.
Mandell says he was inspired by the story of a 9-year-old boy from Germany named Felix Finkbeiner who started the Plant-for-the-Planet campaign, an effort to plant a billion trees worldwide.
Subsequent Plant-for-the-Planet chapters have sprung up around the world with children participating in academies to learn how to make an impact by studying climate change effects and developing public speaking skills.
This past spring the first Plant-for-the-Planet Academy in the United States took place in Seattle and Mandell was one of 80 children to participate. On Oct. 26, two more academies are being held in Seattle with space for 160 children.
Michael Foster is the behind-the-scenes parent organizing these workshops. His two daughters took part in the May workshop and have since taken action through planting trees, writing letters, talking to elected officials and giving public presentations about the impacts of climate change.
Children talking about climate change are difficult to ignore, Foster says.
Last year, 12-year-old Rachel Howell captivated audiences at the final scoping hearing for the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal proposed to be built near Bellingham, Wash. She said, “My generation will pay a high price for the global warming that you do. This is the future that you’re creating for us and this isn’t the future that we want so please don’t build these coal export terminals, it’s just not fair to my generation.”
Watch Rachel’s testimony in the EarthFix documentary COAL.
Mandell, following in Howell’s footsteps, spoke this week in Tacoma at the final scoping hearing for the proposed Longview coal export terminal.
“We need to do more,” Mandell said. “We need to act as if our lives depend on it. Because they do.”
— Katie Campbell
Do you want to help future generations speak? Hear what they have to say. And Click Here to view the entire hour of inspirational speakers.
(from Valerie Serrels, iMatterYouth.org)
As we enter the thick of summer heat, youth, grandparents, parents, not-parents, teachers, and heads of organizations are setting their heels to dirt and pavement for the future of the youngest and future generations. Beginning July 19th, the Walk for Our Grandchildren will include walkers from all generations who will trek from Camp David to the White House, sending a strong statement: it’s time to move BEYOND fossil fuels. NO Keystone XL. NO fracking.
The idea was conceived by a group of concerned grandparents in North Carolina. iMatter, along with 350, CCAN, and other organizations have been supporting their efforts and a team of iMatter Youth Council members will be joining the walk to stand in solidarity with their elders to hold the President to his promise to protect future generations with strong climate policies!
If you live in the region, please consider joining us for any portion of the Walk and/or the Rally on July 27th.
Even if you don’t live near DC, you can support the youth leaders with a generous donation of $20, $30, $100. These kids, and hundreds of others, are working tirelessly across the United States to awaken our society to the most urgent issue of their generation. Together, we will hold President Obama to his word, and work for climate action plans in our communities.
For the Now, For the Future,
Valerie Serrels, Associate Director, and iMatter Youth
(contact me to meet up with us: valerie@iMatterYouth.org)
Watch our Ambassadors introduce Seattle City Council’s Energy & Environment Committee to Plant-For-The-Planet and get down to business. In their first public appearance, 8 Ambassadors share the famous slideshow, originally developed by Felix Finkbeiner, but with special information for Seattle City Council. And then they make some big requests!
They told the Committee how many trees Seattle residents need to plant by 2020 to help us buy time and absorb excess CO2 this century, (hint: it’s a lot!) and some ideas for how to get started.
How did the Council respond? Well, find out in the 20-minute Q & A following the presentation!
You have to be old enough: 8 years old and under 21. If you are 7 and a 1/2 you’ll just have to wait a little while. And you have to be elected. Candidates from North America are sought for the Youth Board, ages 15 – 21.
Here’s an invitation from the Secretariat in Germany. Please pass this along:
Dear students, teachers and supporters of the Plant-for-the-Planet Initiative,
Then apply for the Plant-for-the-Planet Global Boards 2013/2014!
Again, there will be two Global Boards: one for the Children’s Initiative, for children aged from 8 to 14 and one for the Youth Initiative, for young people aged from 15 to 21 years. Together they will represent the Plant-for-the-Planet Initiative, which invites everyone around the world to become a member.
In each of the Global Boards there will be 14 members who represent 7 different world regions. You can be a part of it too. Exchange ideas and opinions with people from around the world and help to take Plant-for-the-Planet into the future!
You have until 22th March 2013 to apply to sit on one of the Global Boards. The candidates be presented on our website, if possible with a video message. The elections will start on 27th March 2013 online. Every Plant-for-the-Planet member with voting rights has until 19th April 2013 to register their online votes for each of the Global Boards. From these elected board members, the Global Presidents and Vice-Global Presidents will be elected. They are voted for in a second round of voting from 20-27th April 2013.
The new Presidents and Vice-Presidents will be presented at the Plant-for-the-Planet Annual Meeting in Munich. The handover from the old Global Boards to the new takes place in June, and the new Global Board takes office on 1st July 2013.
or send us an email with your name and date of birth: firstname.lastname@example.org
The current Global Board members can be seen here.
It would be great if you could forward this invitation to interested students. Thanks a lot!
for the Plant-for-the-Planet Secretariat
82327 Tutzing – Germany
Tel. ++49 (0) 8808 9345
Fax. ++49 (0) 8808 9346
If you are interested or know a youth who would like to be on the board, please contact me or Plant For The Planet now. I’ll be happy to share more information.
Learn more about the Global Board and how to become a candidate on the “Structure” page at:
APRIL 2OTH, 2013, 11AM at Pike Place Market
More than a march for kids, Seattle iMatter Now March celebrates the launch of a local youth-led climate justice movement! Young people hold absolute moral authority on climate change, reminding grownups just how much we care. Come join other like-minded young people to create a network of environmental activists and be the change we need in the world!
Seattle iMatter Now March
Want to be involved? Here’s how!
“Climate change is the most pressing and threatening issue to modern-day society. Through lack of understanding from generations before us, we are having to fix it. And how can we do this without education?”
15 year old Esha Marhawa from West London wrote a petition to keep climate change in the national curriculum for children in England. She’s outraged that the newly proposed curriculum vastly scales back on teaching climate change.
“Geography… inspired me enough to realise that not only is the earth a beautiful place, but one that is in desperate need of our help. More importantly, it inspired me to get out there and do as much as I could.”
What are our standards for teaching climate change science in the U.S.A., anyway?
In December, I offered my climate change slideshow to a 7th grade Science class. They were just wrapping up their unit on Climate, so the timing was Perfect. I started by asking students a rhetorical question, “Who here knows about climate change?” 3 hands went up out of 27 students.”Do you know about greenhouse gasses?” 2 hands went up. The teacher smiled politely. And that’s when it hit me.
It turns out “Climate” in our public schools is tornadoes, weather systems, earthquakes, and you know… “Climate.” “Change” is something else. I looked back at the students, my jaw on the floor.
Halfway through my talk I show a graph of today’s level of CO2. A 12 year old shot up out of his seat and shouted, “How long has this been happening? Why hasn’t anyone done anything about this?”
He was terrified and angry. And he was right to be. I assured him, “I’m getting to that now.” He sat down again quietly and the class listened for 45 minutes barely breathing. The end of the talk is an inspiring call to action using examples of youth leaders who are changing the world.
I asked the 7th graders to write down their immediate reaction to the new coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point, WA. I took their written comments to the public hearing in Downtown Seattle that very night.
I shared their dismay, their horror, their sense of what is right and good in the public record. These 12-year-old kids who learned of global warming that day added their voices to the growing chorus demanding an end to the madness destroying their planet.
2,500 Washingtonians had crowded into the Convention Center to oppose the coal export terminal. The wildest, loudest cheers of the night ( in fact the only cheers permitted in the hall) shook the rafters as children spoke up courageously, with absolute moral authority, to teach us grownups what is right and good, and what is madness. You can watch the video online.
Back to Esha’s petition:
“Our government, part of the generation who bear much of the responsibility for this problem, intends to not only fail to act on climate change themselves but to obscure the truth from children and young people. It is outrageous that Michael Gove can even consider the elimination of climate change education for under-14s. We must keep climate change in the curriculum in order for young people to take on this challenge of tackling the threat posed by our changing climate.”
Here in the U.S., the fossil fuel friendly Heartland Institute “think tank” has written new science curriculum. Video: Heartland Dept of Education
Kinda makes you want to start a petition doesn’t it?
In my slideshow for The Climate Reality Project I have introduced audiences in Seattle to the inspiring work of Felix Finkbeiner in Germany, who founded Plant For The Planet a few years ago.
I want to bring an Academy here so that our kids can take the training, learn how to train other kids, become skilled in organizing and fundraising, understand climate justice, and finally HELP PLANT A TRILLION TREES! That’s right, Trillion with a T and that stands for Trees! The only Trouble is finding a corporate sponsor for the event.
If you know of someone who works at one of the big companies in Seattle, please call me and let’s talk about sponsorship of this Academy training event. Help me make contact with a sponsor and we will get this group to come to Seattle this year!
This kind of reforestation is called the 2nd Solution to global warming. Since our CO2 level is way beyond the safe limit, we need more trees to rapidly reabsorb all that excess carbon. Reforesting areas that have been deforested in the last century would put us back on a path our kids can live with. Felix and the kids who run Plant For The Planet are hard at work planting trees right now.
The 1st Solution is reducing CO2 emissions 8% a year starting in 2013. We need to get started now on Solution #1, then we’ll see all the benefits of solution #2 as kids around the world plant millions of trees in their home countries. When those trees start soaking up more and more pollution, we’ll be so grateful. And it will change the course of history.
If we do both of these things, reduce pollution and massive reforestation of lands, by the end of our kids’ lifetimes at the end of this century, our planet just might get back to a climate something like in the 1980’s. It’s going to be a hot century, but if we do everything we can right away to avoid the most dangerous planetary impacts, our kids and their kids’ kids have a pretty good chance at avoiding total catastrophe for the next century. Sounds like a good bet to me even if the odds are long ! I’d rather bet on the side of helping plant more trees and go to bed each night knowing, “I’m doing the best I can.” Always.
Because of Felix and young people all over the world, we are already well on our way!
Over 12.6 billion trees have been planted so far. Check out Plant for the Planet .