Change Starts With You

Eva Kappas

by Eva Kappas, Guest Writer

My name is Eva and I’m fifteen years old. Every 4th of July since I was little, my family and I have gone down to southern Missouri, where we have a lot of relatives. There’s a tiny cabin there that my grandmother lived in when she was little that sits right on the bank of a river. Every year, my cousins and brothers and I float down the river, make s’mores and play soccer in the dewy grass. My brothers and cousins like to catch fish and throw them back into the river from a dock that has been flooded, repaired and rebuilt many times.

Because like all rivers, the river floods when it rains, and it washes up over the dock. But each year the rain gets a little bit stronger, and the dock goes from getting damaged to completely uprooted. I don’t want to see the water become more acidic, the algae bloom, or fish die, as will inevitably happen as a result of climate change. But my generation will be dealing with the effects of today’s pollution.

Other weather has gotten more intense, too, like the tornadoes barreling down tornado alley. I was eight when the Joplin tornado leveled my great-grandmother’s house. I remember driving past the piles of splintered wooden beams, crushed living room couches with the stuffing spilling out, and the occasional tricycle peeking out of the rubble.

I am choosing to fight for a livable future for my family, and for the beautiful spaces that still exist on this planet. I am also choosing to fight for good jobs and an equitable future, because my experience still pales in comparison to others’ reality in the face of the climate crisis.

I am not a part of a frontline community. I have never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from, or drink lead-contaminated tap water — which is why I have all the more responsibility to make a change. We aren’t just fighting for ourselves, we’re fighting for the planet. And it’s easier to let it go. It’s easier to say, “oh, climate change is someone else’s problem.” But action is crucial. For refugees forced to flee their homes from rising sea levels, for the bees that are the backbone of our ecosystem, for brilliantly colored coral reefs and for everyone who breathes the oxygen of the Amazon and drinks what freshwater we have left. But in order to sustain this ecosystem, and support the people who have already suffered the most from the climate crisis, we need changes that will last.

The change starts with you. The greatest power we are afforded in this country is the power to vote, so use it. Making clean energy options available for households and institutions and sourcing government utilities from clean energy are the first steps to a carbon-neutral state. We need measures to promote the use of clean energy and to phase out the fossil fuels that are blackening our skies and suffocating our ecosystem. This is an emergency, and we have to act like it.

I know you all know we need to take these steps. So now I turn to our policy makers: Politicians: Will you continue to stall while our generation dies, or will you choose to lead with courage, and do what is right to protect our country and our future? If we can make this choice — if our politicians will join us in making this choice — then we have a chance at saving the people and places that we love. We have a chance at stopping climate change.

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