By Midge Pierce
Anyone who doubts that children are leading the way to save the planet, meet Jeremy Clark and Charlie Abrams.
Fearing for their future, the two Cleveland High School fifteen year-olds have spent half their lives trying to stave off climate change. They began writing school reports at age nine, and know their lives depend on their actions.
Clark and Abrams were instrumental in rallying some 20,000 mostly young marchers for September’s Day of Action. They have lobbied the state legislature for carbon cap and trade measures, negotiated with school boards for fact-based curriculum to raise awareness of our fragile earth and presented research to organizations from around the globe.
The nonprofit they founded in 2015, Affected Generation, has been working diligently to rally young voices in support of Oregon’s Clean Energy Bill. Advocates say that, in addition to capping emissions, the bill would add thousands of jobs and billions in private investment in clean energy alternatives.
The legislature’s failure to push through passage of the bill was a blow. Abrams says they will continue to raise awareness of the need for carbon pricing that would enact a fine on the state’s largest polluters.
He remains energized that the bill could come back as a ballot measure. He was disheartened by media coverage that blamed rural Oregon. Contrary to news reports, Abrams says the bill had the support of both farmers and truckers.
Also on their agenda is work with PPS on a more engaging, diverse climate curriculum. A growing passion of the group is producing environmental short films and documentaries.
The teens partner with other nonprofits to upgrade and expand their online presence and outreach to young people. The duo has received international recognition including accolades from a Swedish Children’s Climate organization and they’ve received a $10,000 Young Heroes Award for making a positive difference to people and our planet.
“This is our future, so this is our fight,” Abrams wrote in a blog to one of the conservation organizations he helps influence.