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Youth Voices, Unfiltered


Scroll through to see young people's take on the global climate emergency, and the work that they are doing to fight against climate change.
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My Life Should not Feel Like a Countdown by Melody Hernandez

Today, I am 17 years old and I am currently writing this article while Stranger Things plays on my phone for background noise. Tomorrow, I have a student council meeting but that’s all I have planned for tomorrow. Everything else that happens is a complete mystery to me at the moment. While I’m not good at planning short-term goals, I am absolutely sure what my long-term goals are. I want to continue writing, I want to be a passionate politician just like my personal hero, AOC, and yes, I also want to be a mom. Not right now, of course. I haven’t even taken the SATs yet.

But I would really love kids when I’m older. Every day I’m inspired by mothers doing the damn thing so of course, I want to get in on that action one day. What kind of person would I be, though, if I brought kids into a world where they might not be able to have a future of their own? Their life should not feel like a countdown. My life should not feel like a countdown.

Climate change is affecting everyone but Gen Z most of all. Sure, we make memes about climate change but when we get serious, don’t ever assume that we’re joking about our futures. I stay up at night so upset at the world that us youngins have to discuss if we even have a future and make huge decisions, such as having kids, because we might not be able to even go outside in 20 years. Yet, adults expect us to sit back, watch, and keep our mouths shut. And our parents wonder why depression and anxiety are at an all-time high for teenagers. It’s not because of our phones. Surprise!

I want to have kids and I also don’t want to have to worry every day about our futures. But with the monster that is climate change, sometimes it doesn’t even seem possible. Don’t get me wrong, there is a sliver of hope inside of me and I think that is really important for the people that consistently stress out about climate change (That’s me, hi). Giving up on our planet is the last thing we should do because we’re essentially going to start creating a domino-effect. When one person feels like giving up, then others will follow in their footsteps. Giving up means giving up on our future. Find some hope, it can be anywhere from Taiwan banning plastic bags or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introducing the Green New deal.

I find my hope in the youth-led climate organization who are doing the work that the adults should be doing. The youth are the ones who are giving up everything to fight for a livable planet. And they deserve to be heard by their governments as well as the utmost respect that adults always expect from us.

The existence of climate change is a painful part of our lives. The whole “will I actually be able to do this?” thought is something that has run through all of our minds at one point.

And I know that the scary statistics are not just spooky to us, it’s just plain sad. I have accepted the sad fact that I will probably not bring kids into this world but will I stop fighting for climate justice? Honestly, you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to do that. Because we all deserve to have kids of our own without worrying about their future or even our future.

I know it’s been said a million times but I’ll say it a million and one more time: there is no planet B. We have to act now. For our families, for future generations, and most importantly, for ourselves.


Melody Hernandez is a 17-year-old writer who mainly writes Op-eds on the issues that she cares about. She is a proud woman of color and wants to continue amplifying young voices in her work. Melody resides in Northern Virginia but enjoys taking spontaneous trips to Washington D.C for political work or just taking a stroll in front of the Capitol.

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Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth supports all young people and their diversity in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Reach Not Preach platform serves as a safe space for all young people to share their take on the topic of climate change. The views expressed in the Reach Not Preach platform are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the United Nations.

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