Katherine Lorenzo and Alexandria Villaseñor have found ways to raise their voices and give their generation “a fighting chance” to save the planet.
Alexandria Villaseñor is too young to vote, but her voice about climate change has the power to make people listen. The 15-year-old New York City resident is one of the founders of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, and on Wednesday night she addressed the Democratic National Convention.
“Climate change is impacting us now and it’s robbing my generation of our future,” said Villaseñor. “For young people my age, every aspect of our lives, from where we go to school to what kind of careers we’ll have to whether or not we raise a family depending on us taking climate change seriously right now.
A second generation Mexican-American, Villaseñor got involved in climate change when she was only 13. She was visiting family in California and the Paradise fires broke out. She was staying with relatives about 100 miles away, but her asthma still flared up and she couldn’t breathe.
“After the fire, I researched the connection between climate change and wildfires and knew I had to do something,” she said to The Americano. “I started going on strike every Friday in front of the United Nations Headquarters.”
Her strike to bring awareness to the climate change crisis ended in March because of the Pandemic. Still, the effort gave her the profile to be invited to speak at the DNC.
“This is a group that for so long didn’t even want to talk about climate change,” she says about the Democratic Party. “They refused to have a climate change debate during the primaries even though climate change is the most important issue for the future of humanity.”
“What Are You Doing Here?”
“The one question I get asked over and over again is ‘What are you doing here?'” said Katherine Lorenzo, a Nevada activist, to the audience of the virtual DNC.
“Not a lot of climate activists look like me. I’m an Afro-Latina and a climate activist.”
“I grew up in a low-income neighborhood where pollution rates are often higher than wealthier areas and a lot of kids have asthma,” Lorenzo, who has also been fighting for climate change since she was a teenager, added. She now works for the nonprofit Energy Foundation, which promotes policy solutions that advance renewable energy and teaches the public about the benefits of a clean energy economy.
“Switching to renewable energy would mean cleaner air, better health, and a steady income for folks in a neighborhood like mine,” she told the DNC. “Joe Biden’s plan is transformative. He knows saving the planet is not only a challenge to overcome. It’s an opportunity for a better way of life.
The Trump administration has dismantled, rolled back and weakened efforts to tackle climate change according to the World Resources Institute. Researchers say the Trump administration has disregarded scientific data about the risks of climate change. It also dismantled the Clean Power Plan, a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, loosened emission standards for cars and trucks and withdrew from the Paris Agreement, the landmark International treat to address the climate issue.
Alexandria Villaseñor told DNC viewers that she knows that Joe Biden won’t solve the climate change crises in four years, but she believes he will give her generation a fighting chance.
“The youth are taking a stand and saying that we won’t be silent while the planet is destroyed and our futures along with it,” she told The Americano.