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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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Working Towards Climate and Environmental Solutions Sophia Kianni and Aidan Witeck

Working Towards Climate and Environmental Solutions

Sophia Kianni and Aidan Witeck

As our generation engages in climate activism, it is imperative to shift our focus towards developing climate solutions. Without concrete policies and proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, our work will be for naught. We must utilize our education to further research that aims to find solutions to the climate and environmental crises. In order to reduce the incessant danger climate change poses, it is absolutely necessary for the youth to get involved—to the greatest possible extent—in the climate movement.

As students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, we have enjoyed access to unparalleled scientific resources to conduct environmental research. We implore students at other institutions to take advantage of all available opportunities, as every student has the ability to catalyze change in their communities. For instance, the two of us have been designing a carbon-capturing device that can be attached to boats and submarines. Contrary to popular belief, carbon dioxide is more concentrated in water than air. Instead of releasing used carbon back into the water, our device will have a catalytic converter paired to it which will effectively break down the carbon dioxide into benign gases. Given the growing emphasis on sustainable energy, boat fuel prices are projected to skyrocket. In developing countries such as Bangladesh and Guinea that rely heavily on the fishing industry, this increase would be devastating.

Although we believe our idea will be efficacious in developing countries and help decrease water carbon concentrations, it will be irrelevant in the seemingly inexorable march of climate change.

The purpose of this op-ed is not to elucidate one of the many possible sustainable ideas, but a desperate call to the youth to get involved in the climate crisis. There are meaningful actions that every young adult can take to help prevent further climate calamities.

By getting involved in the climate movement, students will demonstrate their commitment to developing a sustainable future. This will help generate an acute focus on combating climate change in forthcoming generations.

Even for students who do not wish to major in environmental science, there are numerous ways to support environmental advocacy. Students can utilize the resources available in their schools to have a positive impact on their communities and implement new project ideas. We encourage students to pursue projects such as holding fundraisers for environmental nonprofits, upcycling old classroom supplies, or researching bioplastics. There are also a plethora of green careers available in different fields, including sustainable finance, environmental engineering, and conservation science. Colleges around the United States also have environmental student organizations that work to develop community solutions.

At the University of Michigan there is Sustainability Without Borders, a non-profit that conducts sustainable projects in struggling areas worldwide. At the University of Chicago there is a Green Economics Group, whose purpose is to use math to create models relating to rapidly-rising greenhouse gas concentrations such as carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. At Yale University and University of Pennsylvania, students can join Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a non-profit organization that conducts sustainable projects in struggling areas worldwide. Effectively every university has an environmentalist organization—regardless of what you are passionate about, we strongly advise you to get involved in whatever way you can.

In order to prevent any further irreversible change to every form of life on Earth, humans must multiply their current efforts to even have a chance at doing so. Our careers are not solidified yet; it is our responsibility to choose one that will leave the world better than we found it and ensure a future for generations to come.


About the Authors


Sophia Kianni is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She works on the Fridays for Future USA national media team and the This is Zero Hour national partnership team.

Aidan Witeck is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He is interested in quantum mechanics and superconductivity as well as using mathematical models to better understand climate change.

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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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