Wednesday, November 16, 2016

And the young people will show us the way …

Today, a young German woman asked where I was from, and when I mentioned the United States, she immediately, in a consoling but hopeful tone, reminded me that when one can’t count on leadership coming from the top down, it simply means it will need to come from the bottom up.  And what I am seeing is a myriad of examples of these acts of leadership coming from the world’s young people, my son included.

In China, young people are working actively to provide low-carbon solutions involving bikes.  One college student created a program where she takes old bikes and creates stations where the bicycles are refitted with batteries and generators, providing electricity for lighting and recharging cell phones.
With over 30 million (!) college students in China riding bicycles on campus, another venture started by 25-year olds has really taken off – the Ofo bike-sharing program which is now on 20 campus in China and several cities.  It’s different from other bike sharing programs – for students it’s free and the bikes can be left anywhere.  It is one of the many programs that relies on mobile phone apps.  The presenters ended with saying that while we tend to be attracted to the new technology, there are many low-tech solutions we shouldn’t overlook.

Of course, young people are also leading the way with the high tech solutions!  Check out this new electric vehicle below created by a young Moroccan engineer, Imad Morchid, age 25!  Tesla will need to watch out J

Equally high tech, my colleague and I donned a Virtual Reality headset and tested out the new interactive “games” that help teach about the effects of climate change.  One of the applications was placed in the Arctic, where the user can input estimates of global warming and rising temperatures and predict when there would be no Arctic ice.  Sure enough, the designer of this game was another young person, working with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre. They have also used virtual reality to model what can happen in disasters in order to promote the use of forecast based financing.  

Just this week, 21 American children (age 8-19) won a victory when Judge Aiken denied the federal government’s and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss the youth’s case against the federal government regarding climate change in the U. S. District Court for the District of Oregon.  Check out their case here.  

Children are even helping with communicating science – check out this video from the UK -- “The Other CO2 Problem” -- where the animation and film were created by kids to explain the problem of ocean acidification. 

Combining activism with art, Alex Binford-Walsh (yes, my son) spent eight days photographing the 30 miles of new corridor proposed for SunZia power lines through the Lower San Pedro River Valley, giving a close-up view of this important ecological habitat. Check out his video! This is Arizona’s last remaining natural desert river watershed, and there is concern about the devastating environmental effects of the massive powerline, which has also led to a lawsuit in the federal courts.

These are just a few of the examples we are seeing every day around the globe.  In all spheres – from politics and activism to arts and communication – the youth are taking a lead.  May the force be with them.

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