Over the last year, our own Contributing Writer Tia Shah, has been writing an amazing column about trailblazing girls throughout history. This new Incredible Girls column is in that vein, only this column is about contemporary girls under the age of 25 who are doing awe-inspiring and significant things in the world. Every Friday in 2019, we are going to post a column detailing the life of an Incredible Girl and why you should know about her. Read on for a glimpse into the life of climate change activist, Haven Coleman.
As I said last week, this column might turn into a love letter to badass climate change activists for the next couple of columns — and I regret nothing because they are all so incredibly awesome and a fitting part of this Incredible Girls column. Let’s dive in.
12-year-old Haven Coleman is already a force to be reckoned with. Haven has led school strikes for climate, she is currently leading a climate activist organization and she is part of a generation of climate change activists who are doing what adults around them might not be — mobilizing with a sense of urgency around climate change.
Haven was 10 years old when she realized the impact of the current climate crisis. Her social studies teacher brought real world problems into school lectures, and she found out that deforestation worldwide are endangering sloths — her favorite animal. From there, she researched how to stop deforestation and came to an article about climate change. She told Elle Magazine in a March 2019 interview that she was devastated, and that devastation has spurred her to action. “I felt like I needed to do something since nobody had been doing anything,” she said. “I am the only one who can do something. If adults aren’t going do it, who is? Us kids have to.”
Haven co-founded Youth Climate Strike U.S. (YCSUS) with 16-year-old Isra Hirsi (column to come) and 13-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor, who I wrote about a few weeks ago. In between running a grassroots organization and school, Haven also strikes weekly at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver every Friday since January, to demand action on air quality and renewable energy.
In a CNN interview, Haven was asked what is the biggest thing standing in her way, and I think her answer is pretty telling.
“Probably trying to get political will,” she said. “We’ve been getting attention from adults but to get this radical change, we have to convince the people in power. So the problem is elected officials….we could eliminate all fossil fuels in so little time if we had political will. We’re playing with generations of kids and of people that are not even born yet. We’re playing with time itself — we are messing with so much stuff, and yet we’re not acting on it.”
That quote really struck me, and is so true, in my opinion. Older adults who are the ones in power making all the decisions have less to lose from climate change than younger generations because the people in power will not be alive to see the full, devastating impact of climate change on our planet. Haven is a kickass girl, and I can’t wait to see where her climate activism takes her, and the world, from here.
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