Sometimes early commitment to activism comes from early experiences. That’s definitely true for young climate change activist Izzy Ryan.
Ryan was always interested in climate change issues, but the consequences of global warming impacted her firsthand when her family home burnt to the ground in the 2017 Tubbs Fire. It devastated her community and spurred action at her school, Sonoma Academy. After becoming involved with the organization Schools for Climate Action, she met with congress and was an active participant and workshop leader at July’s Zero Hour Summit in Miami.
In our conversation with Ryan, Parentology learned all about her future plans post-high school graduation and how she intends to remain a key player in the climate action fight.
How Did You Become a Climate Activist?
I was a Student Sustainability Leader at Sonoma Academy. Back in March, I traveled to Washington, DC, with the organization Schools for Climate Action (S4CA) to hand-deliver climate resolutions to members of the US Congress. I was also given the opportunity to speak with representative Mark Amodei and a Tom McClintock staffer about the importance of acting on climate change.
Before my meeting with the Tom McClintock staffer, Steve Koncar, the team and I prepared how we would share stories of how we have been affected by climate change and how it has led us to become climate action advocates.
The story I shared was about how I lost my home in the Tubbs fires in 2017 — how the fires impacted hundreds of students in my county.
Our goal was to inform Steve about how McClintock is disrespecting future generations by stating humans aren’t direct contributors to climate change. Climate change is a generational justice issue. Global warming’s impact will disproportionately affect young people and future generations. We’ll be the people harmed by the destruction caused by past generations. And there’s no debate the response to climate change should be a nonpartisan issue because it will be impacting everyone.
When trying to relay this message to Steve, [it became evident] he believed global warming wouldn’t be something we needed to worry about for hundreds of years; that our economy would spiral if any sort of regulation on carbon emissions is implemented.
This broke my heart and the hearts of other students in this meeting. It saddens me to think our government hasn’t taken action to stop the rate at which our climate is warming. What hurts me more is the fact that many of our leaders don’t see climate change as a problem needing immediate attention.
This experience has sharpened my understanding of how much I want to continue to bring awareness to climate change and has led me to consider a career in environmental p
How did you get involved in the Zero Hour Summit?
Zero Hour asked me to help run an info table about S4CA and to be a presenter in a workshop about
What message do you want to convey to readers about climate change?
Keep fighting for change. There’s so much power in numbers, and the number of people advocating is growing each day. Although I’m frustrated that the US government hasn’t taken immediate climate action, I believe if we keep raising our voices and advocating for what we believe, they’ll have no choice but to listen.
Climate change is only going to grow into a bigger and more pressing issue over the next few years. Recently, our country’s action on climate has been outright embarrassing. It’s important we don’t give up, that we don’t silence ourselves. This is our future we’re fighting for, and we only have so much time to act.
I went to the Citizens Climate Lobby Conference this past June, and while I was there I learned a few tips helpful in persuading climate change deniers. Remind them climate change and global warming are going to threaten their grandchildren’s future and limit opportunities available to them. Tell them that if they want their kids and grandkids to have a healthy planet to live on, to thrive on, they need to support climate action plans.
What’s next for you? Are you going to get involved in the 2020 elections?
I have a lot of different projects in the works as of now. I’ll be starting college at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo this September. I’m very interested in the policy and government section of environmental management, and will be studying environmental management and possibly business and policy in college. I hope to found a new branch of Schools for Climate Action, called “Colleges for Climate Action.”
As for the 2020 elections, I may be attending a democratic presidential panel at American University in September. I would have the opportunity to ask the presidential candidates questions about their climate action plans, face-to-face. I’m am also hoping to do an internship in DC next summer where I could work on one of the democratic presidential campaigns.