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Rana Jackson

Conrad Schools of Science, 12th grade

Global warming is an issue for all of us, however, the climate crisis disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, such as low income groups, the sick, Black and Brown populations, children, and single mothers. In Wilmington, DE, where I have lived my entire life, these groups are over-represented. I learned just how poverty stricken Wilmington was/is when I attended Highlands Elementary School (Now Johnson Elementary), which is a Title I school. In Wilmington, 54% of residents are Black (World Population Review, 2024, para. 11), 24% live below the poverty line (World Population Review, 2024, para. 2), and 47.9% of single mothers in Wilmington live in poverty (ZipAtlas, 2024). In fact, my zip code (19806) has the highest percentage of single mothers living in poverty at 78.1%, and they are primarily women of color (ZipAtlas, 2024). As a young African American woman growing up in Wilmington, I live in close proximity to the people and spaces that will be the most heavily impacted by global warming. This is why the climate crisis is particularly urgent to me. 

By 2050, if no action is taken, climate change will be irreversible and we will quite literally start to die off as a species. As Adreas Malm writes, we can have “No more excuses for passivity,” (Malm, 2021) when it comes to our climate crisis. We must act now. From oceanic, air, and soil pollution, to greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions, global warming affects some part of each and every one of the world’s citizens. To prevent our world from being destroyed by human beings, today’s youth will have to be bolder than our predecessors, and we will have to engage in daily direct actions to force governmental leaders to implement macro level policy changes such as implementing green laws, increasing public transportation options, reducing food waste, and using environmentally friendly products to help stop global warming. 

One sure way to help lower the amount of pollution is to use direct action to get local governments to understand the importance of passing green laws to reduce emissions. Direct action includes emailing legislators, attending and speaking out at city and county council meetings and at Legislative Hall in Dover, meeting with elected officials about youth concerns and politicians’ positions on issues, and also includes sit-ins, protests, boycotts, and running candidates for office who understand the critical nature of global warming and have a track record of working to stop it. Such candidates might promote local policy initiatives such as increasing solar panel use, planting trees in public areas (especially in low income neighborhoods), building parks, and promoting county wide composting initiatives like the one in North Wilmington (Brandywine Hundred). 

Macro level policy changes we must demand our politicians support and act on include Clean Air, Water, Endangered Species, Marine Mammal and Occupational Safety Acts. I will share a quick example of why policies such as these are important. This past summer (2023), I, along with a number of other high school and college students, interned with the Brandywine River Restoration Trust. Our job was to wade into the river, collect water samples, and then check the water samples for abnormally high levels of bacteria. I loved the job for many reasons, the main one being that I met so many interesting people at the collection locations. Two of the river locations were in the heart of Wilmington, on the Northside. While at those locations, countless people stopped us every day to inquire about what we were doing. They wanted to know what was in the water. They wanted to know if the water was polluted and unhealthy. They wanted to know if they were going to get sick from drinking the water. They wanted to know if the river would disappear. They wanted to know if global warming was going to kill the fish they caught to eat. They wanted to know if eating the fish they caught in the river would make them sick. People constantly stopped us to talk about the environment and ask questions. They were scared. When we told them what we were doing, they were surprised that we cared about what was going on in their neighborhood and it made me, and the other students, feel good to know we were helping keep people healthy. If politicians do not promote acts such as the Clean Water and Air Acts, we must vote them out of office. If we do not want our planet to become extinct, we must engage in direct action to stop politicians from engaging in business as usual. The youth of today must disrupt our system in order to save our planet. 

On top of engaging in direct action with elected officials, a second way to help stop global warming is to promote the use of public transportation. It is less common for people to use buses and trains because cars are the norm in capitalist nations. However, we should use public transportation much more because it reduces carbon emissions and is safer for our planet. Ways to increase public transportation usage include posting signs of where bus routes are and the times buses run; reducing the cost of bus, train and subways fares; investing in public infrastructure to make public transportation more attractive to users; offering bus shelters and seating areas so using public transportation is more comfortable; adding more routes to “under-served” areas; providing bathrooms and changing stations for babies on all forms of public transportation; and reducing the stigmatization around public transportation. As of right now, public transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, increasing this number can help lower our carbon emissions (UCLA – transportation article). Young people understand that using public transportation is a good thing. We are more likely to ride-share and carpool, to use buses and trains, and a lot of us even walk around Wilmington. Young people
are excited about increasing public transportation, and we are advocating for the trolley being put back in Trolley Square! Youth of today are leading the charge for all of us to use more public transportation, which will lower gas released into the atmosphere by cars and help reduce global warming. 

The third way we can help stop global warming is by decreasing food waste, and we can start in our schools. I am the Co-President of the Green Club at Conrad Schools of Science and we initiate projects to help improve parks, neighborhoods, urban spaces, and schools. For instance, I helped start a recycling and composting initiative to reduce food waste at our school. Now, instead of students throwing their lunch trays in the trash, we collect them. Volunteers from the club remove excess food from the trays and stack them neatly for disposal. The fruits and vegetables that the kids do not eat are fed to our barn animals. Stacking the trays and saving food for the animals saves 16 full trash bags of garbage daily. The United States wastes 80 million tons of food each year (Feeding America, 2013) and uses more than 100 billion plastic bags in a year (Environmental America, 2013). This initiative will help cut down on both food waste, and plastic bag usage. If schools all over the country joined in on this mission, it would have a major positive impact on reducing our climate crisis. 

The fourth way we can begin to reduce global warming is by buying and using products that don’t hurt the environment. For example, some detergents contain high amounts of phosphorus that when being disposed of loads into bodies of water that can cause algal blooms which are very dangerous to the surrounding habitat (Australian Government Dept. of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water). Also, buying single use plastic products has a negative effect on the planet. A great example of using a product which is better for the environment would be switching from styrofoam trays to cardboard trays during meals at school. Cardboard trays are biodegradable whereas the styrofoam trays are not. The Green Club at my school led this initiative, not the adults who have worked at the school for years. The youth want to invest in healthy and clean products because we want to be able to live and enjoy the earth. 

The youth of today are acting to save our planet, and ourselves. In order to stop the climate crisis in front of us, we are engaging in direct action to force elected officials to create green policies to reduce carbon emissions, increase access to public transportation, reduce food waste, and use more environmentally friendly products. If the adults of today are not up for the job, the youth are. 


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