By Lauren Basra
The past five years have seen an increase in youth-led activism focused on the climate crisis. Their most famous and arguably most prolific is the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
But whilst Greta has gone viral for her UN speeches and TV show appearances, there are plenty of other equally passionate and followed activists worldwide.
Here is a list of a few people who have caught my eye with their passion for the fight to save the planet. They have garnered a following or are taking legal action against the governments who continue to ignore the climate crisis’s severity.
With the Instagram tag alexandriav2005, the 17-year-old Alexandria uses the platform to spread a positive message about fighting for climate action to her 17.5k followers.
She co-founded the US-Climate Strike when she was only 14 and founded the climate action group Earth Uprising. This youth-led global council convenes online to combat the silencing of climate activists in the traditional media sphere. Alexandria said she was motivated to join the climate revolution after the US Campfires in 2018 caused her asthma to worsen due to the smoke that filled the sky above her home.
The Earth Uprising blog spreads information on how to peacefully and safely protest, with a less militant attitude, to Alexandria’s own blog, where she preaches civil disobedience as a way for children and young people to take back control of the protest movement.
Vic Barrett is a Caribbean-born afro-indigenous activist based in the United States. He was only 11 when Hurricane Sandy destroyed his home in White Plains, New York, in 2012. After seeing the hurricane’s devastation on his home, the young Vic started to delve into activism and the climate crisis.
His heritage spurred his desire to save the planet as the Caribbean Islands are at increasing risk of disastrous weather due to North America and Europe’s greenhouse gas production, which is also displacing families and causing other societal tragedies.
Vic is also pursuing legal recourse as one of the plaintiffs in the Juliana v United States climate action lawsuit against the US government, which continues to ignore the severity and necessity of slowing greenhouse gas production via energy consumption.
Marinel Sumook Ubaldo
Marinel Ubaldo is a Filipino activist who has taken the global stage to draw attention to the climate crisis and its severe consequences in Southeast Asia.
After losing family and friends to Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Marinel started to speak up about the drastic need for change. She is bringing much-needed attention to the plight of Island communities, especially in Southeast Asia, where there wasn’t a strong activism culture.
She helped organise the first climate strikes in the Philippines in May 2018 and also was a community witness for the Philippines Commission on Human Rights investigation into corporate responsibility, which was finally revealed this year.
Now a student at Duke University in the United States, she has said, “I don’t need their pity. I need them to take action”. Marinel’s Instagram is an excellent example of how young women can take their place in the climate conversation and world of activism whilst remaining true to themselves.
Wyn Wiley, a Nebraska-based photographer and climate activist with a drag alter ego called PattieGonia, has an Instagram following of 504k and 127k on TikTok. PattiGonia is their more popular channel, and the drag persona broaches the intersectionality of queer and climate activism.
Due to their artistic skills, their pages are very visually stimulating. Wyn captures the beauty of the Nebraska scenery whilst using biting wit to convey important messages.
PattiGonia brings gorgeous outfits and savage humour to help motivate people to join the Climate movement. Their engagement on Tiktok engages a young audience who are taking activism into their daily allotment of screen time!
Kyaw Ye Htet
This young activist co-founded the Myanmar branch of the Global Youth Movement, which was started by Greta Thunberg in 2018 through her “Fridays for future” school strikes.
Kyaw Ye Htet is a student from Yangon who organised the first climate strike organised protest in Myanmar in May 2019. Despite only getting a small turnout compared with other countries in Southeast Asia, the protests are growing. The increase from 20 people at the first event to around 200 people showing their support at the latest rally shows the influence and increasing support for climate activism amongst the youth of Myanmar.
The lack of awareness and even climate denial still prevalent in Southeast Asia and the United States is being counteracted and combated by these young activists. These brave climate warriors are risking their own safety to protest and fight for what they believe in as they strive to protect the earth for the children of the future.