Scientists have been ringing alarm bells about our changing climate for decades, and the last few years have seen teenage activists turn up the volume. From protesting pipelines to organizing school climate strikes, these young leaders are among the loudest, angriest voices demanding solutions. Now, many of them are speaking up for the first time through a fundamental part of democracy: by voting.
More than 22 million Americans have turned 18 so far this year. Studies show those newly eligible voters are overwhelmingly concerned about the existential threat of a warming planet, and that people born since 1981 will make up the largest segment of the electorate within eight years. That promises to radically change public policy, which is one reason leaders of the youth climate movement are urging their peers to show up at the polls — and cast a ballot with the Earth in mind.
Check out what three youth climate activists have to say about how they feel about casting their first votes this year.
Delaney Reynolds, 21, is the founder of the Sink or Swim Project, a Miami-based nonprofit that educates and engages youth on solutions to sea level rise. Jamie Margolin, 18, co-founded Zero Hour, an organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of climate activists. And Jerome Foster II, 18, started OneMillionOfUs, which aims to register and empower young voters in the 2020 election.