Climate Change is About Everyone

By: Helen Clanaugh

The climate movement is about everyone.

It’s an issue that intersects with racial justice, gender justice, class, LGBTQ+ and disability rights. No matter your age, religion, or political affiliation— this issue affects all of us, one way or another.

That’s why we need to act now. A lot of times people ask me how I remain so positive while advocating for climate justice, knowing how big and scary this issue can be. We have 11 years to do something, so remaining positive and continuing to fight is the only hope we have as young people.

This is about my future, your future, and everyone that will come after us.

I got involved with the climate movement because of my passion for protecting the planet, but it has morphed into so much more than that. It’s about our Indigenous communities that have and continue to fight to preserve our natural resources. It’s about my Black and brown neighbors who are disproportionately affected by climate change. And it’s about all the children that don’t even know what climate change is yet. I’ve always had a passion for the natural world and have found peace within it. When I realized that climate change puts, not only everything I love about the outdoors in danger, but also myself and my community, I knew I had to do something.

I have been involved with various groups working to protect the water in Northern Minnesota and I have contacted my elected officials about these issues. My most recent involvement with the climate movement though, has been with MN Can’t Wait (MNCW), a youth led coalition fighting to combat climate change. The most significant focuses of MNCW are implementing the Minnesota Green New Deal and working to make the climate movement more inclusive. The Minnesota Green New Deal is a piece of legislation that aims to address climate change and income inequality in our state.

“We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not.”
-Greta Thunberg

Through MNCW, I got involved with Minnesota Climate Strike. I live in Duluth, so I co-organized a local strike and TakeAction Minnesota sponsored the action. This was a chance to connect with my own community and fight an international issue. Our strike had lots of energy and enthusiasm, and it gave me hope for the future. I think the biggest thing that has fueled my passion for this issue, though, is the fact that I attended Conserve School, a semester school in Land O’ Lakes Wisconsin for high school juniors. My eyes were opened to how fascinating the natural world is, and how important it is that we protect it.

This experience gave me a newfound sense of hope that I was excited to bring home with me and use to continue the fight for climate justice.

In the future, I hope to continue to build new relationships and connections through the climate movement. I hope to keep pushing the Minnesota Green New Deal along with my peers, and I hope to continue working to include as many people as I can in this movement. The young people have sparked a movement, and as Swedish Climate activist Greta Thunberg said, “We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not.”

Helen Clanaugh is a youth activist in Duluth, Minnesota. She has been an active member with TakeAction Minnesota in Duluth, as well as MN Can’t Wait, Students Demand Action MN, and local politics. She is a junior at Denfeld High School.

Get involved in the climate justice movement here in Minnesota.

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