A Providence High School Student's Take on Environmental Protection in Charlotte
Feb 26, 2020 12:12PM
By Shannon McKenzie
In February, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a world renowned atmospheric scientist and researcher, gave a talk titled, Mitigate, Adapt or Suffer: Climate Change is a Threat Multiplier, at Davidson College. In her talk she identified the most impactful actions concerned citizens can take today to address climate change:
1. Talk about climate change with others from a place of shared values
2. Join an organization that amplifies your voice
3. Advocate for action
We interviewed Kate Lewin, a 17-year-old senior at Providence High School, who attended Hayhoe’s Talk and practices all three actions regularly.
NA: What drives you to attend the Friday Youth-Led Climate Strike at the Government Center in Charlotte?
KL: The climate crisis may seem like a distant threat, but in reality it is right here and right now. People all over the world are losing their homes and lives because of it. According to a United Nations report in 2019, one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction and the warming climate is a major driver. Climate change even impacts us right here in Charlotte; according to the Charlotte Observer, last year was our city's second warmest year on record. According to research published in North Carolina Medical Journal, 30 years (1987 to 2017) of data indicates people living in close proximity to coal-fired plants had higher rates of premature death and increased risk of respiratory disease and lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, poorer child health and higher infant mortality and that the risks were associated to air pollutants from power plant emissions. The researcher’s conclusion was that further studies on cumulative impacts of air, water and soil contaminants were needed. I, and many others, care about the people and animals affected and believe it is vital to help solve the problem. Our country is a democracy, the people want to turn the climate crisis around, and so politicians and our government should represent this desire. This is why I strike every Friday outside of the Government Center.
NA: What would you most like to see the older generation do to help you?
KL: Talking about the climate crisis, spreading the word and educating friends and family is so important and impactful. When I learned that my grandma did not know about the dangers of letting the climate crisis accelerate, I showed her data proving it and explained why it is such an important issue. Now, without me even asking, she talks about the climate crisis to all of her friends, most of whom did not know about it, and her friends are talking to their friends. They now understand that if they love their kids and grandkids, they will educate as many people as possible and vote against any climate deniers. Voting is also one of the best ways to help resolve this problem, especially this year with the presidential election.
NA: What would you most like to see the younger generation do to help you?
KL: Young people have the power to grab the attention and hearts of the media and the government. If even a quarter of school-aged kids strike school on Fridays, school systems and government would be forced to pay attention and fix the problem. Talking about the climate crisis is also helpful in our generation. If someone is not old enough to vote, they can encourage their guardians and the adults in their lives to vote.
In addition, everyone can do their part by car-pooling, alternative transportation or minimizing single occupancy drive times and airplane travel, reducing beef and dairy consumption (even if it is just one day a week or once in a while), and buying pre-owned clothes and goods.
Kate Lewin is an intern at Climate Reality Project of Charlotte. She is in charge of social media for Charlotte Youth Climate Coalition, a collective of different youth climate organizations around Charlotte, as well as a member of several other youth and adult environmental organizations. For more information, visit ClimateRealityProject.org, Rebellion.Earth or Instagram/CltYouthClimate. To contact Lewin with questions or for information on how to reduce your carbon footprint, email [email protected].