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Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez

Fight the War! 13-Year-Old Calls on His Generation to Save the World

Xiuhtezcal Roske-Martinez
12/30/13

We live in a world controlled by money, greed and power.

A world where every single decision that is made determines the kind of world future generations are going to inherit from us. A world built off of the lie that the Earth is a resource for our taking. A world built off a fragile mindset that says we are determined by our wealth, our social class and the amount of power we have.

The good thing about a fragile mindset like that is it can be broken, reshaped and then formed into a whole new way of thinking that no one imagined possible. Since the Industrial Revolution, we began to destroy our natural resources and take the earth for granted. We believed that our resources would never run out.

The rivers were polluted with toxic waste, the air was fouled with industrial chemicals, and that’s when people began to see evidence of the destruction of the Earth, and the depletion of its resources.

A movement to protect our rivers and the air erupted in the 1960s and 1970s, with massive demonstrations and people in the streets. For the first time in history, people had an awareness about the damage that was being done to the environment. And above that, they knew that this movement would make a difference.

Out of this movement came the first international Earth Day, which was a “voice” for the Earth. But since then, the environmental movement has quieted down. With all the “wins” in local communities there has been a lack of effort behind making greater strides against global issues.

With ecosystems collapsing and the crisis that looms many people have become numb and drifted into an unconsciousness state. As the Earth’s climate is dramatically changing, causing greater storms, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and many more severe natural disasters, humankind is being forced back into action.

My generation is being pushed into a battle that is not our own. The greed, the consumptive lifestyles, the mindset that the Earth is a tool, a resource, has driven mankind to the greatest challenge that our society has ever come to face: A global climate crisis.

We have overfished our oceans, destroyed the coral reefs, wiped out our forests and caused the greatest mass extinction of plant and animal species since the age of the dinosaurs. We are running out of resources, but even more so, we are running out of time to respond to the dire state of our planet. We have lost more than 50 percent of our sea ice in the last 30 years, 97 percent of Greenland’s surface ice melted last June, and in 2013, there was less Arctic sea ice in the history of the Earth’s documentation. Our oceans are acidifying at alarming rates, and global sea levels are rising.

This is no longer just about the rivers, or the environment, this is about the survival of the human race. We face the most urgent threat of our time, and this has driven us to a point where the choices that we make will determine whether our species will continue. This crisis has captured our attention and has reawakened the environmental movement across the globe.

As the youngest generation, we have the most to lose; therefore, we are at the front lines of this war, fighting for our survival and that of future generations. This resurgence has hit hard and a youth-led revolution is emerging from the shadow of the first environmental movement.

Young people are taking action and challenging the decisions of leaders all across the globe; asking them to put our future before corporate profits and end the reign of fossil fuels that are destroying our very own life support systems.

There were 8,000 youth at Power Shift in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, battling climate change. There were youth from 110 countries at the Rio+20 UN summit in Brazil, urging world leaders to come to a decision on their response to climate change. And there were youth from 90 countries at the Copenhagen summit. The resurgence is on the rise.

Real change will come from the people, not leaders, or politicians, or governors. It is time that we all join this wave of change for the survival of future generations. We, the youth, are the dominant force on this planet. We are leading the resurgence.

 

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ypochris's picture
ypochris
Submitted by ypochris on
Very eloquently put. If this was indeed written by a thirteen-year-old, I congratulate him on his perception and language skills. He has a great future ahead of him as an author and advocate. The world needs many more youth of a like mind. I do take exception to the contention that in the 1960s and 1970s "For the first time in history, people had an awareness about the damage that was being done to the environment." Many cultures have come to this realization throughout history, long before the industrial revolution. The Maya civilization is believed to have collapsed due to environmental degradation. Possibly the Pueblo, also. In Hawai'i, a rapidly expanding population and the resulting extinction of important food and material sources (large birds and some fish) led to strict kapu (taboos) limiting the times and types of wild foods that could be taken, on pain of death. This allowed the islands to sustain a population believed to have been at least as large as the population today, which can only be maintained by bringing in 95% of its food from elsewhere. Many local areas have suffered from environmental degradation in the past. Those who addressed the issue with radical restrictions to protect the resources, such as the Hawaiians, survived. Those who did not, such as the Maya, suffered cultural breakdown and a severe population drop. The difference today is that the problem is world wide, and that scale threatens the very systems that sustain us. The future of the human race, not to mention most of the countless species that share this planet with us, looks grim indeed without a willingness to take the radical steps necessary for our mutual survival. Xiuhtezcal's insight and intelligence, unfortunately, is shared by few of his peers and fewer of his elders. While I certainly hope he will be an inspiration to others and we will act before it is too late, the billions of dollars spent on propaganda to maintain the status quo drowns out such voices of reason. Personally, I have given up on the human race, and focus my efforts on trying to prevent us from bringing down so many other species with us on our way out.

dinagw's picture
dinagw
Submitted by dinagw on
I, too, appreciate the strong words from this thoughtful young man. But I also disagree about the time frame. The problems we face go back much further than the industrial revolution, and even our own people were complicit in environmental degradation when they participated in the fur trade with the European invaders. All for copper kettles and weapons. And ever since we have been buying into the white man's system of commerce, which drives the runaway train we find ourselves on. We are all part of the problem now. The only hope is to accept that an economic system built on endless exploitation will be the death of us, and abandon it.

Kalpulli's picture
Kalpulli
Submitted by Kalpulli on
ypochris - I think Xiuhtezcatl's referral to the 1960's and 70's is correct and that he is referring to the environmental movement that hit a critical mass during those years as far as the reach and awareness into main stream public and schools. The statement that you made "Xiuhtezcal's insight and intelligence, unfortunately, is shared by few of his peers and fewer of his elders" is just incorrect, as I have followed Xiuhtezcat's work since he first spoke out on climate change at the very young age of six. He is has since then spoken around the world and is respected not only by youth but by elders globally. You can check out some of his work and his organization if you are interested in learning more about this incredible 13 year old Indigenous leader at www.EarthGuardians.org He is launching Earth Guardian hubs around the world of youth uniting together to protect their future. Also I am sorry you have given up on the human race, because there are many beautiful people with good hearts doing incredible things to try and protect the Earth for future generations. Peace and Happy New Year.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
The time frame is a moot point. At ANY point in history some men have cared deeply about the earth and all living things while others care only about exploiting the earth, its animals and its people for power or wealth. This will never change. The best we can hope for is that future generations realize the importance of caring for our planet. Maybe THEY will be smart enough to see through the Capitalists who insist that fracking is good, global climate change is just a theory, we NEED the jobs a leaky pipeline connecting Canada with the Gulf of Mexico would bring. I envision a day when idiots like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are openly laughed at, but then I'm a dreamer.
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