And yet most of the political discourse around climate change, at least in the U.S., seems to center around how much it would cost to tackle it. (Or whether it is happening at all.)
That's going to change if 11-year-old climate activist Hallie Turner has anything to do with it. Here's how she frames the debate:
"We only have one amazing earth. If we pollute and poison it, we won't get a second chance. Climate change is happening now, so the youngest generation can't wait to grow up before we get involved. That's why so many young people who love our planet are making their voices heard."
"The future of this world is our future. And we're asking our leaders to take action on climate change. We're the ones who are going to have to live with the consequences of what's going on."
"Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But usually I remind myself that people really didn't know the consequences of what was happening. Now, as more and more people are becoming aware, I think they'll want to take a stand and act."
Photo: iMatter NC
In an interview with North Carolina's Indy Week newspaper, Susannah Tuttle of Interfaith Power and Light explained why she believes Turner's message may get across to legislators who have remained resistant to climate action on economic grounds:
Lawmakers are accustomed to hearing how a bill will affect business, she said. But starting with the business model, as she put it, "lifts up the economy as the only reason for our existence."
Instead, she suggests that people talk first about what they love. And the response, from faith leaders and legislators, is almost always that "they love this place — North Carolina — from the mountains to the sea. They love vacations with their grandchildren, from the mountains to the sea." Start with love, Tuttle said, and the discussions move not to issues of business but of humanity. "What is it we're trying to experience here? What is life about?
For Hallie's mom, Kelly, empowering youth like Hallie to not only protest, but to take action in other ways too, ought to be a priority for the environmental movement:
"When Hallie first got interested in this issue, she was really frustrated at not finding more opportunities to DO something. Connecting with iMatter and being asked to lead a march was a great opportunity for her to feel like she was having an impact. But it was very challenging to find avenues to connect with other young people. Young people's voices are incredibly powerful, especially on an issue that's so important for their future. Even those who care deeply about this issue can have a hard time knowing how and what to do about it. It would be great for them to have more ways to share their voices."
And then we can take action of our own.