Maya Navabi is a senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York pursuing a BSE in Mechanical Engineering. Coming from the Sonoran Desert, she grew up learning about water scarcity and environmental conservation in a unique ecosystem. After graduation, she wants to work in the Renewable Energy sector to make it more accessible for everyone. Along with Our Climate, Maya is the chairperson of RPI’s Student Sustainability Task Force, and tries to incorporate sustainability into every conversation she has.
Though the younger half of the millennial generation is often thought of as lazy and unconcerned, in fact, we are some of the most fearful and angry people. As the increasingly urgent climate crisis approaches, we are constantly told that it is our job to prevent a catastrophe that will utterly destroy life as we know it. Children, who do not even have the right to vote, are being held responsible for generations of extreme negligence. Ultimately, corporations, governments, and individuals who brought us on the brink of early extinction are guilty of ripping our futures away from us before we can even decide what to do with them. But something that renders our generation as special is our bravery: all over the world, young people are striking and demanding our futures be prioritized by our local and federal governments. Thousands and thousands of young people, ranging from elementary school age to college age students, have been gathering on Fridays to strike for the climate, and taking any opportunity to meet with their Representatives to set environmental policy in motion. With the powerful tool of social media to organize and support each other, we are becoming a force that will not be ignored.
On September 20th, 2019, more than 4 million people around the world took to the streets to demand the attention of their elected officials to act on climate change. As part of the Albany crowd, I had never seen more people on the Capitol Park lawn before. The feeling of connection, support, and most of all determination was amazing in the face of a highly (but unreasonably) controversial issue. That so many people turned out to the streets demonstrates that our lives as young people do matter and we will not let them be taken by corporate greed.
Although comprehensive Federal action is what we need, starting at the local government level is how we’ll arrive there. The importance of working in our own communities to push the adults who represent us is an often overlooked, but integral, strategy to widespread change. By advocating and winning state level policy that will protect our lives and environment, we will set precedents for other states to follow. Time is rapidly running out to protect a livable planet and our lives, and us young people will not watch the continued destruction happen.
Since New York State has passed the highly ambitious Climate Leadership and Climate Protection Act,it is time for lawmakers and elected officials to recognize the need for even more powerful legislation and adequate funding for such programs. It is critical that marginalized communities will not fall through the cracks.
Working with Our Climate has enabled my voice as a 22-year old woman in a world that’s on fire to make a difference, and has empowered me to uplift my peers to do the same. As the rooms of state representatives fill more and more with young people, our message will be heard loud and clear: we demand a right to a safe future and we will not wait any longer for those with power to ensure that.