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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 8/29/19

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Arrives in NYC to Fight "Biggest Crisis Humanity Has Ever Faced"

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ALEXANDRIA VILLASEÑOR: The response I've gotten striking has been really supportive, from Greta Thunberg herself and having students in New York City come out and strike, and are getting more involved. And students for Fridays for Future New York City, we are going to continue striking. On September 20th, it is going to be the next global climate strike, and it will be the Friday before world leaders come to New York City for the United Nations climate summit. So we're sending a message to world leaders that they take bold climate action for our future.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you have to say to President Trump, who denies climate change exists?

ALEXANDRIA VILLASEÑOR: Really, my message to any world leader is that they have to start taking the climate crisis seriously, or else my generation will continue demanding that they do.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you have to say to politicians who say, "Well, you're 14. You're too young to vote. Why should we listen to you?"

ALEXANDRIA VILLASEÑOR: Just like Greta Thunberg says, you're never too small to make a difference. And that's why this movement is so strong, is because hundreds of students are striking, and we're all you know, we're striking because we don't have a voice, because we can't vote. And striking is one of the best ways to get our voices heard.

CLIMATE JUSTICE ACTIVISTS: Unite behind the science! Unite behind the science! Unite behind the science!

XIYE BASTIDA: My name is Xiye Bastida. I am a 17-year-old climate justice activist. And I am originally from Mexico. And I have been leading most of the strikes in New York City with Fridays for Future. So, we've been organizing for the March 15th strike, the May 3rd strike, the May 24th strike and now the September 20th climate strike.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does this moment mean to you right now? Why are you here at the marina?

XIYE BASTIDA: So, I think this is a very important moment because America, as a whole, has been behind climate consciousness, so we need somebody who is going to come and really tell everyone to wake up. And it's very important that we are having the U.N. climate summit, because that's us, young people, speaking to our world leaders about how this is an intergenerational crisis that requires intergenerational cooperation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, tell us where you're originally from.

XIYE BASTIDA: So, I'm originally from a town called San Pedro Tultepec in Mexico. I was born and raised in Mexico, and I moved to New York four years ago. So, in 2015, my town was affected by flooding. And that's what moved my family to move out of Mexico into New York City. And when I got to New York City, I saw the effects that Hurricane Sandy had had on the community, and I realized that the climate crisis follows you everywhere.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you're leading the strikes at Beacon High School, one of the public high schools here in New York. How did you get involved in activism, climate activism?

XIYE BASTIDA: So, I was invited in 2017 to speak in a conference in Malaysia. And I had never done public speaking before, but I realized the power that my personal story had in comparison to data. So that's why, when I came back, I started my school's Environmental Club. And I really started mobilizing people to go to Albany to lobby our politicians, and City Hall. And I testified at City Hall so that they would declare a climate emergency. So, all this happened before the strikes started happening. And when I saw that students were striking for climate, I said, "We have to mobilize our school."

AMY GOODMAN: What message do you have for President Trump, who denies the phenomenon of climate change, that there is a climate crisis?

XIYE BASTIDA: So, to that, I say there is many aspects to the climate crisis. It's not only about our planet heating up, but it's about pollution. It's about air pollution, water pollution, plastic pollution. So, if you don't believe that we are going through a cycle of warming, then at least clean up our oceans, clean up our forests and stop burning them.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the significance of Greta Thunberg? When did you first hear what she was doing in Sweden?

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