These Two Women Are Standing Up for the Planet — Here’s How You Can Too
Inspiring action to protect the environment, from the Amazon to Sweden and beyond.
Hurricane season has begun with Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, striking the Bahamas. The Amazon Rainforest is burning at an unprecedented rate and the recent wildfires in the Arctic were the worst for the region in more than 10,000 years. And temperatures in Alaska are rising twice as fast as the rest of the world.
Scientists believe that climate change is responsible for much of this extreme weather –– and the consequences are far-reaching. A United Nations report released earlier this year warns that climate change is threatening the fight to end extreme poverty and calls for more ambitious action to be taken.
Learn more about the climate emergency by tuning into NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo for “Climate in Crisis” — a week of special programming beginning Sept. 15.
Join us here in taking action. Global Citizens can power the movement to help heal the planet in big and small ways by joining a climate rally for instance, switching to more sustainable products, and using public transport. Global Citizens can also take inspiration from these two women who are tackling climate change in their own unique ways –– and inspiring action.
Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva calls environmental protection the challenge of the century. “Our challenge is to include sustainability in public policies and budgets. Citizens have to demand it of their government, company, academia–everyone. That’s when we’ll really see a transformation,” she said in an interview during her presidential bid in 2014.
Silva is a fierce critic of the environmental policies of President Jair Bolsanaro, who has pushed to open the Amazon to development and mining, and has described the fires in the Amazon — her birthplace — as “a crime against humanity”.
Silva, now 61, has been a staunch protector of the Amazon since she was 17. “It was important to have been born in the forest,” Silva said in an interview. “And to have depended on it for almost everything–our livelihood, our feeling of protection, the latex that allowed us to produce rubber, the nuts we used for food, the land we used to harvest fruit to survive.”
Together with rubber tapper leader and environmentalist, Chico Mendes, Silva helped lead demonstrations against deforestation in the Amazon and established a 2-million hectare reserve managed by indigenous communities.
Silva has recently championed Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist, who is about the same age Silva was when she first started fighting to protect the Amazon.
Thunberg represents a new generation of climate activists. In August 2018, the 16-year-old started skipping school on Fridays to stage a weekly vigil in front of the Swedish parliament demanding greater action on climate change. Her activism has inspired a global movement of young people in more than 150 countries who have also staged “climate strikes” of their own. Earlier this year, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Thunberg recently crossed the Atlantic from the UK to New York on a nearly 14-day journey aboard a wind and solar-powered yacht to draw attention to the impact of fossil fuel emissions on the environment. She’ll be taking part in a series of events leading up to the United Nations’ General Assembly. The aim is to pressure world leaders to commit to the Paris climate agreement goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"It's insane that a 16-year-old has to cross the Atlantic Ocean to make a stand," says Thunberg.
Not everyone can cross the ocean to make their voices heard, but they can still get involved in meaningful ways in their own community.
Learn more about the climate emergency by tuning into NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo for “Climate in Crisis” – a week of special programming beginning Sept. 15. As part of the series, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Ali Velshi moderate “Climate Forum 2020,” a two-day event where 2020 presidential candidates will talk with young voters about their plans to address the emergency. It will be live-streamed in part on NBC News Now and Telemundo and featured on MSNBC programming, Thursday, Sept. 19, and Friday, Sept. 20. Hayes also hosts a special live hour of MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” exclusively to climate that week.
Watch the Global Citizen Festival live on MSNBC Saturday, Sept. 28, beginning at 4:00pm ET with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, Ari Melber, Jacob Soboroff and Savannah Sellers.