Coastal Preservation, Updates, Climate Change
September 10 2019

Teenagers Turning the Climate Change Tide

by Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

The Surfrider Foundation is celebrating the wave of young climate change activists and their electric energy circulating around the globe. We celebrate Greta Thunberg who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in order to attend the upcoming United Nations Climate Summit (because travel by boat is less polluting). We marvel at the fact that such a wonderful, young lady has motivated and sustained a global effort to raise awareness about climate change (BTW - despite only being 16 - she has probably achieved more positive climate-karma than most adults trying to ‘curb their carbon footprint’). 

It is ironic and eye-opening that the ‘kids these days’ are asking (practically begging) the world to wake up and acknowledge our local communities are already experiencing climate change impacts. Our kids know that extreme events such as massive hurricanes, fires, abnormal-precipitation, melting ice sheets, sea level rise, coastal erosion, infrastructure damage, prolonged heat waves, etc. are all linked to climate change. While it is slightly sad these kids are inadvertently being forced into a leadership role, it is also inspiring to see how they are working to solve the climate crisis that adults have long-ignored.

For the past few years, Surfrider has been increasing our climate work because the ocean and coasts are literally at the center of climate change. The ocean has absorbed 90% of the heat trapped in our atmosphere produced by greenhouse gases. And the ocean has absorbed nearly 30% of the carbon emitted—resulting in ocean acidification. Through our day-to-day work, we've seen our ocean and coasts bear the brunt of climate change impacts. 

Fortunately, our youth respects scientific evidence and they are rising up to call adults' bluff. For months, thousands of kids from around the globe have been striking to raise awareness about climate change; and it is time we adults listen and support them. And that is precisely why Surfrider is actively supporting any and all events organized by the youth to raise awareness about climate change.   

On September 20th, a youth-led climate strike will take place before the United Nations Climate Summit. Go here to see where events are happening in your local community. If you cannot make any of these events, please listen to what youth are telling our society and make personal changes such as driving less, buying less plastic, monitoring your electricity use, eating locally, cutting down on water usage, advocating for alternative energy, and helping to improve how your local community responds to climate change. 

You can also work on climate change by plugging into your local Surfrider chapter. Currently, we are engaging in more than 25 local and state efforts to plan for sea level rise. In addition, chapters are participating in dune restoration projects, riding Smartfins, lobbying city councils to ditch fossil fuels, and other activities. We also host an annual ‘climate change activist’ webinar and produced materials and resources to empower our local members.  

"We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back." -Greta Thunberg