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Greta Thunberg and Representative Keating Talk Climate Activism

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs
Video image from Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis from the joint hearing with the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Credit

Youth climate activists are in Washington, D.C., to drum up support for their cause ahead of a global climate strike on Friday. 

On Wednesday they testified at a joint congressional hearing held by Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating.

In his opening statement, Keating described the challenges climate change is posing to the Cape, coast, and islands. 

Our historic fishing and lobster industries are threatened by increasing ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures,” he said. “In spite of having some of the best scientists and researchers right in that area, in Woods Hole and UMass, it’s an incredible challenge.”

Keating also cited studies that warn the Cape should anticipate one to two meters of sea level rise by 2100.

Much of the hearing was devoted to discussing the sea level rise, carbon emissions, and toxic pollution that could come from climate change.

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who’s organized climate action around the world, kept her testimony short, opting to submit a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists brought together by the United Nations.

The report warns that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere could warm by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040, yielding disastrous results for the planet.

Then, Thunberg directed her message to Congress.

“I want you to listen to the scientists, and I want you to unite behind the science, and then I want you to take real action,” Thunberg said.

Youth activists say they hope these kinds of meetings will galvanize U.S. leaders to prioritize climate change when they meet with world leaders next week at the annual United Nations summit in New York.  

“So far our generation has failed to adequately address our climate crisis,” Keating said. “This failure isn’t fatal, yet our failure to change will be.” 

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.