By SHERIECIA GRANDISON, age 13, HAMNA JAVID, age 15, MUHAMMAD S. KHAN, age 11 and NIKKI SAINT BAUTISTA

Rising sea levels due to global warming threaten 10,000 Tuvaluans who live on small coral islands in the Pacific Ocean. PHOTO: Toby Parkinson
Rising sea levels due to global warming threaten 10,000 Tuvaluans who live on small coral islands in the Pacific Ocean. PHOTO: Toby Parkinson

Twenty years ago, at the 1992 United Nations Rio Earth Summit in Brazil, the United States made promises to address global warming and climate change. These promises have not been kept. The United States releases the most greenhouse gases into the atmosphere per person, followed by China. Now, many kids are taking action to hold our leaders accountable and to save what we can of the planet.

Students like Shellon Punch and Brittany Arboleda, both age 17, are Global Kids activists in New York City who strive for a sustainable and green economy. According to Punch, the people involved in this campaign are youth. President Obama should also be involved because “he is one of the most respected people in the world,” she says. On Earth Day, people are encouraged to keep the environment clean and protect it, but “that is supposed to happen every day.”

Although 97 percent of scientists say man-made climate change is real, some people deny it. When government policies favor the profits of industries over the environment, Arboleda argues, “those in impoverished communities suffer the most.”

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WORLD GETS WARMER?

More unpredictable weather: Expect harsher draughts in dry regions and severe flooding in wetter parts of the world.

More climate refugees: When people and wildlife (such as polar bears and rhinoceroses) are forced to move away from their homeland to survive, they become refugees. Global warming threatens different habitats with rising sea levels and extreme draught.

Less food: Food acess and the amount of nutritious food is at risk because global warming affects the water supply, farming and fishing.

Global warming and changing rainfall causes Limpopo River Basin in the east of Southern Africa to dry up.

Global warming and changing rainfall causes Limpopo River Basin in the east of Southern Africa to dry up. PHOTO: Flickr/Monkeyboy

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Hold letter writing party. Invite friends to write letters to local officials, asking them to ban hydraulic fracking in your state because it poisons the water supply.

Use alternative transportation. Instead of driving in a car, walk, bike, skateboard or ride a scooter to get to where you need to go.

Eat less meat. Have meatless Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Forbes reports that 51% of greenhouse gases come from cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry – worse than all the cars in the world combined!

Shellon Punch, 17, leads a workshop on the effects of climate change.
Shellon Punch, 17, leads a workshop on the effects of climate change. PHOTO: Nikki B.

Op-Ed PODCAST

Listen to what Kid Reporters Hamna Javid and Sheriecia Grandison have to say about global warming and what you can do about it. Produced by Sylvia Guerrero of Radio Rootz.

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PHOTO: Flickr