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Young Climate Activists at December Luncheon by Marilyn Podesta and Ruth Kistler

Twenty-two members and guests attended the December luncheon at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport to hear our three student guest speakers, Hailey Feuling (8th grader at Waldport Middle School), Maia Stout (9th grader at Newport High ) and Kaydance Redwine (10th grader at Newport High) discuss their research and thoughts about a timely subject: Climate Change. We also welcomed the girls’ parents, Jill and Tobias Feuling, and Michelle Stout and Kathy Redwine to be part of our audience that afternoon.

Kaydance told us that the climate warming effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide has been known for over thirty years, but the world continues on the path to a climate catastrophe. Youth have the most to lose. Juliana v U.S., a federal court case filed in 2015 in Eugene, asserts that, through the government's affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.

These three local young women are climate activists. They explained that they’re too young to vote so they must use their voices (and signs) to influence the voters and legislators. According to a Newport News Times article, Maia and Hailey have been “posting vigil on street corners” to bring attention to our planet’s needs for the better part of a year. The students have been participating in “strikes” in the local area, and individually appearing on Fridays near City Hall to publicize their concerns. Maia gave credit to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old from Sweden who recently had been named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine and her work/inspiration, for the youth movement world-wide. Kaydance told us that 1.4 million students have participated in the school strike for climate.

A question was asked by an audience member, “What can WE, as individuals, do to help reduce the carbon footprint now?” Maia cited recycling, use of solar panels, investing in more fuel-efficient automobiles, and eating less animal products as ways of doing our part in helping to reduce carbon dioxide. Maia is a strong advocate of going vegan; she takes part in a weekly program on KYAQ radio, “Healthy Diet, Healthy Planet” (4:30pm Mondays). These young activists urged us, “Find something you’re passionate about and act on it.” Maia warned, “Pure laziness can cause the end of the world.” And, of course, we adults, as voters, must demand that our government take action to mitigate or avert the coming climate catastrophe.

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