The Uncharted Lands… Global Warming

This is one of my recent works that I have made for school, and as you can guess, it’s about addressing the issue of global warming, and a teen activist, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who is fighting to stop it.

Two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef has been damaged as a result of global warming. And that’s not the only effect of this worldwide problem that we have gotten into, with the rising temperatures breaking records every year. People like Xiuhtezcatl Martinez are fighting to stop this problem that has had a large effect on our earth. Martinez believes in the fight for a world that we want to live in, and that we want future generations to enjoy.

To begin, global warming is caused by multiple sources. The most widely known and largest contributing factor is the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. The problem is, we use it in our everyday lives whether it’s the gas of our cars to electricity production to other factories. It emits primarily carbon dioxide, which is a type of greenhouse gas. When greenhouse gases are put out in the atmosphere, it absorbs infrared radiation, which slows its escape from the atmosphere. Therefore, it traps heat in like a warm-air blanket that surrounds earth in which is called the greenhouse effect, even though greenhouse gases only make up 1 percent of the atmosphere. Deforestation also contributes to greenhouse gases. Since trees take in carbon dioxide to give off oxygen in its place, it creates a balance of gases in the atmosphere. With 50,000 sq. miles of forest being lost each year due to the larger demands from the increasing populations of humankind, it’s no longer stable. Other contributors would be the methane released from landfills and agriculture, and nitrous oxide from fertilizers. According to national geographic, just a molecule of methane produces more than 20 times the warming of a molecule of CO2, while nitrous oxide is more than 300 times more powerful than CO2. Fracking, although one of the less widely known causes, is the process of injecting high pressure liquid to extract oil or gas, causes gas leaks, and natural gas contains primarily methane. While the fracking industry has made more jobs for Americans, one day there will be no more fossil fuels, and those jobs will be lost anyway, all the while releasing dangerous substances. And then there are the overwhelming list of effects caused by global warming. It can hardly be compared to anything else, in which Barack Obama states, “ There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent threat of a changing climate.”(weforum.org) Already the consequences have shown, but they can only grow to more severe outcomes. One example is California’s ongoing drought. As Amanda Macmillan, a freelance journalist, states, California’s worst water shortage in one thousand-two hundred years has been intensified from 15% to 20% by global warming. The odds doubled in the past century, the chance for similar droughts happening in the future are climbing higher. Not only will there be more frequent droughts, but intensified hurricanes, longer allergy seasons, disrupted habitats, the eventual extinction of some species, and the melting of glaciers in Antarctica. Since 2002, Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion metric tons of ice each year, an alarming rate that will cause the ocean to rise several meters in the next century, which can eventually lead to the coastal flooding of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. With this pile of troubles, the scale is tipping more than ever in the majority of greenhouse gases and the more there is of it, the worse each year will get.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez(pronounced Shu-tez-cat), name meaning the “turquoise warrior,” is the 19 year old Youth Director of Earth Guardians, “tribe of young activists, artists, and musicians from across the globe stepping up as leaders and co-creating the future we know is possible,” has been working to stop global warming. Born in Boulder, Colorado, he was raised in the native Aztec traditions of his father, saying, “My dad taught me that all life is sacred. When I was a little boy, we would always talk about our responsibility to protect our land, our culture, our earth as indigenous people. These teachings are the foundation of the music I write and the things I fight for,” and advocating for social and environmental justice with his mother, who is the executive director of Earth Guardians, both parents being seasoned activists (xiuhtezcatl.bio). With a love for nature while watching the environmental destruction of society around him, he decided that he wanted to do something about it, saying, “Now, I work on climate change, fracking, and indigenous issues because I have a personal investment in them, and because I recognize that this issue going to affect all people, but especially people of color, indigenous people, and youth.”(teenvogue.com) When he was younger, Xiuhtezcatl family was just one among the 22 million people who have already been displaced by sudden weather-related hazards caused by global warming. It is no wonder that at the young age of six that he started speaking at conferences and demonstrations from the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro to the United Nations in New York, having spoken at over a hundred events around the world. His work has been featured on many shows including  PBS, Showtime, and HBO. “An impressive spokesman for a viewpoint the world needs to hear,” Bill Kibben of 350.org calls Xiuhtezcatl. 

Over the years, he has been working to stop global warming by taking action. Whether it is singing passionately through hip-hop or working on speeches, he’s constantly trying to raise a more aware world to do something, saying, “It’s not about being an activist. It’s about recognizing the power you have to make a difference.”(teenvogue) He has worked on successful campaigns to get pesticides out of parks, regulate coal ash, and achieve bans on fracking in Colorado cities, and has even been able to make people in his town pay fees for using plastic bags.  In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl received the United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President’s youth council. Later on, he became the lead plaintiff in a youth-led lawsuit against the federal government for their failure to protect the atmosphere for future generations, saying, “Our constitution was written so that we the people could protect our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This includes our right to clean water, clean air and a safe climate. If our government fails to protect these rights, it is the duty of Coloradans to take these matters into our own hands.”(westword) Besides leading the current lawsuit, he has also been working on banning fracking, asking for restrictions on fracking near schools and hospitals that significantly limit the scope of the industry. “We’ve gotten threats from the oil and gas industry… things happen when people start to tell the truth about big industries that are coming in and taking advantage of communities, and taking advantage of resources,” says Xiuhtezcatl(huckmagazine.com).  Overall, Xiuhtezcatl has been working to change the laws to ban the harmful substances and processes that are harming our environment.

In conclusion, Xiuhtezcatl is a very effective teen activist. He is striving to raise awareness and to make those in power take action. Xiuhtezcatl, a teen activist and hip-hop artist, has been working to produce a better world for generations to live in, whether through his music or trying to change laws for the better. He believes if we work together and fight, then we can make this a world that our descendants will enjoy.

Martinez Xiuhtezcatl (image from: https://www.earthguardians.org/xiuhtezcatl )

Works Cited:

“About Xiuhtezcatl.” Xiuhtezcatl, Brooke, 2018, www.xiuhtezcatl.com/bio/.

Martinez, Xiuhtezcatl. “This 17-Year-Old Is Standing Up for the Environment in a Major 

Forsberg, Michael. “Causes of Global Warming.” National Geographic, National Geographic 

Partners, LLC. , 14 July 2017, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-causes/. 

Martinez, Xiuhtezcatl. “This 17-Year-Old Is Standing Up for the Environment in a Major Way.” Teen Vogue, TeenVogue.com, 27 Apr. 2018, www.teenvogue.com/story/xiuhtezcatl-martinez-explains-why-hes-fighting-climate-change.

Nierynck, Robin. “The 14-Year-Old Environmental Activist That’s Changing This Generation.” Huck Magazine, 16 Dec. 2015, www.huckmagazine.com/perspectives/activism-2/kid-warrior/.

Olabi, Nora. “Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Talks Music, Politics and Suing the Government.” Westword, 28 Mar. 2018, http://www.westword.com/news/colorado-supreme-court-takes-up-xiuhtezcatl-martinez-case-on-fracking-9945864.

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