Raise Your Hand for L.A.’s Kids

  • Posted on 19 August 2019
  • By Sybil Azur
Photo by Mike Coeyman
As I write, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, is hunkered down in a solar-powered sailboat, somewhere on the temperamental waves in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. She is putting her body on the line in order to avoid the greenhouse gas emissions that accompany plane travel, so that she can raise her voice at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23rd in New York City. 
Nourished by freeze dried meals, her father’s companionship, and a mission to save the world from climate catastrophe, she is clear, she is calm, she is courageous. She has to be. In the face of widespread complacency and denial, she and her peers are set to inherit a world that may no longer be habitable, and at no fault of their own. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2019 was the hottest month in recorded history. This marks the fifth consecutive year of record temperatures across the globe.
Greta is well aware of what this all means— melting ice caps, sea level rise, ocean acidification, bleached corals, bigger and stronger storms, unprecedented flooding, record-breaking heat, protracted drought, perpetual wildfires, unpredictable weather patterns, food shortages, pandemic, mass extinctions, climate migrations, and a struggle for dwindling resources. And that’s why she’s not stopping. That’s why she, and countless children around the world have taken to the streets, are skipping school, and are demanding, not asking, that our leaders act on climate before it is too late. 
L.A.’s kids aren’t taking no for an answer either. Kids like eighteen-year-old climate activist Kevin Patel, a recent graduate of Santee Education Complex in Downtown L.A., who demands action because air pollution caused the heart palpitations he’ll have for the rest of his life; and seventeen-year-old Maxine from Highland Park, who knows that climate change is a form of violence that melts her shoes during track meets, makes her teammates faint on summer days, and taints the air that her four-year-old niece inhales; and Emma, a sixth-grader from Sherman Oaks who worries that time is running out and that she’ll never get to touch a Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog before it goes extinct; and second-grader Mario from Community Elementary, who refuses plastic straws made from fossil fuels that after one use make their way to oceans and the bellies of dolphins; and all the kids in Wilmington who play two hundred feet away from an oil refinery, where cancer and asthma populate the neighborhood; and all the kids in Inglewood whose school yards are dusted with airplane exhaust; and all the kids in Pacoima whose lives are sandwiched between landfills and industry; and all of the students from the 265 LAUSD schools who missed two days of instruction because the air from the 2017 wildfires was too hazardous to breathe; and my own two children, who at five and seven-years-old, breathe in particulate matter from the freeway a block away from their school, my son’s inhaler tucked away in a closet in the nurse’s office. These children will look to us, at the end of our lives and ask if we raised our hands when the alarm was sounded. What will your answer be?
We must fulfill our greatest charge as parents, educators, community members, and leaders, to do everything in our power to ensure a livable future for our children. This, Angelenos, is a call to action like no other, where the whole world is on the frontline, and underserved neighborhoods are bearing the brunt of our unsustainable development and consumption. That’s why we at Climate Reality Los Angeles in partnership with Sierra Club Climate Parents have formed 100% Green Schools L.A., a coalition of concerned citizens across L.A. who are urging the Los Angeles Unified School District to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030, and away from natural gas by 2040. LAUSD holds the largest amount of real estate in the city, making it the largest energy consumer in Los Angeles. Join us as we raise our voices to call the LAUSD Board of Education to the table to make good on their mandate to serve L.A.’s children and plan for their future. Let your Board Member know you want them to lead on climate!
How can you help? Answer the call!
  • Sign and share our petition to LAUSD know you want them to commit to clean, renewable energy 
  • Make a public comment at the October 1st LAUSD Board Meeting which will start at 4:30 pm. In one minute, let the Board Members know how climate change is affecting your family and that you are in support of the Resolution to transition the district to 100% clean, renewable energy. 
  • Recruit your friends, family, and LAUSD school to stand behind the initiative.
  • Email us a one-page written testimonial issuing your support
  • Write and publish an Op-Ed to show your support
  • Spread the word!
  • Join our Facebook group to stay updated on the latest
  • Join our coalition! Email me to get involved
And in the beyond-her-years wise words of Thunberg, “We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.” The onus lies with us, the adults in the room, to protect our children from harm. Don’t turn away. Stand up. Speak out. Be a warrior for future generations. Fight like your world depends on it.* Because it does.
*Quote by former Vice-President Al Gore
“Adults keep saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope, I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”-Greta Thunberg
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