I spent this past weekend reflecting on how illegitimate our public discourse has become. On Wednesday, I attended a taping of Samantha Bee’s show (the one where she called Ivanka Trump a “feckless c—”), and was disappointed that the issue of climate change wasn’t mentioned once. I watched Bill Maher’s latest episode, and also felt deep disappointment that he couldn’t manage to bring climate change up in sixty minutes of blather. In watching other late-night television hosts over the course of the week, I was repeatedly let down by Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Myers and Jimmy Fallon. Recalling that the United States is the only country on Earth not part of the Paris Accords was just more than I could take.
Twelve years after Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” laid out the scope of impact the planet faces from climate change, we have seen massive migrations from drought-ridden lands, unprecedented meteorological damage and a gravely shrinking polar ice cap. And yet, mainstream media has failed to find a way to effectively include climate change as part of our regular cultural dialogue. If we as activists and voters are to address this single issue that will most directly affect the well-being of every living thing, we need news and media influencers to hammer the matter on every single broadcast.
This is one of the many reasons I can’t wait for teens to take over as our talk show hosts. I no longer have faith in the leaders of my generation to tackle the greatest environmental disaster since the extinction of the dinosaurs, but I do believe in our young people. Through LAMP programs and the 22×20 Campaign, I’ve spoken to many, many teenagers about environmental issues. They get it. Young people are not only prepared to inherit the earth but to make it remarkably better than their forebears have left it. They use social media to pass the time and to build movements. In many ways, we adults need to get out of their way, and I am determined to help make that happen.
This is the first generation faced with the reality of not experiencing this planet the way dozens of human generations before them have experienced it. They are ready and they will take action. They are already aware that they do not have the luxury to kick the can down the street – they are facing endless refugee crises, food shortages and rising ocean levels.
The exemplary awareness I see in young people is what makes me so so excited to be part of a campaign that elevates and puts forward their voice to be humanity’s shining beacon.
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