This past Saturday, May 14, we co-hosted the 10th Annual Youth Summit on Climate Change with over 200 junior high and high school students in attendance. What started out as a grassroots effort by a group of high school students at the Boston Latin School and Radius ten years ago has grown to a large network of students and schools in the Boston greater area and beyond. When programming the keynotes and the workshops, we endeavor to educate and inspire the students and create a spirit of activism.
This year, however, something else was also happening. Many of the environmental professionals who spoke and ran workshops commented to me that they were the ones who were inspired. There is definitely an air of fatigue among people who have been working for years in the environmental movement. Indeed, there are reports now of serious depression among scientists and researchers in the environmental and climate change fields, termed "climate depression". This is not surprising when individuals have dedicated their lives to research only to see their findings ignored, or worse, ridiculed. However, Saturday shone a bright light on the possibilities and potential of working alongside this next generation.
Caitlin Cleaver, Director of Science and Research at Hurricane Island, Maine, chatted with me after lunch and reflected on her lifted spirits. She was inspired by the energy and passion of the young people attending the summit; other scientists and activists echoed these sentiments throughout the day.
Inspiration is near. We only have to seek out the passionate young people in our lives and work alongside them. Let's get going!