Robin Loznak (Xiuhtezcatl); Courtesy of Jason Liao & Patrick Zhao (Patrick & Jason); Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen (Jamie)


CIVICS NOW

Meet the Changemakers

Planet Superheroes

How big of an impact can teens have on protecting Earth? Huge. Meet four who are making a difference—you can too!

The Hip-Hop Artist
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 18
Boulder, Colorado

While the walls fall and the world burns / Seas rise and the clock turns / The earth fighting back with hurricanes / And the earthquakes and the pouring rain

Those are the opening lyrics to “Broken,” a song by Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced shoo-TEZ-kot) Martinez. He makes music with the goal of inspiring others to do something about the planet’s climate crisis. But music isn’t the only way Xiuhtezcatl calls people to action for the environment. 

He’s also the youth director of Earth Guardians, an organization focused on helping young people make a difference. He travels around the world giving speeches and is part of a lawsuit against the U.S. government claiming it hasn’t done enough to protect the planet (see "Standing Up for the Earth").

Xiuhtezcatl learned early on the value of speaking up: When he was 9, he attended a city council meeting with his friends to take a stand against pesticide use in his community. The council heard their point of view, and it helped ban the use of those chemicals. “If we put our voices out there, our elected officials will pay attention,” he says.

LEARN MORE: earthguardians.org

While the walls fall and the world burns / Seas rise and the clock turns / The earth fighting back with hurricanes / And the earthquakes and the pouring rain

Those are the opening lyrics to “Broken.” That is a song by Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced shoo-TEZ-kot) Martinez. He makes music with the goal of inspiring other people to do something about the planet’s climate crisis. But music is not the only way Xiuhtezcatl calls people to action for the environment.

He is also the youth director of Earth Guardians. That organization focuses on helping young people make a difference. Xiuhtezcatl travels around the world giving speeches. And he is part of a lawsuit against the U.S. government claiming it has not done enough to protect the planet (see "Standing Up for the Earth").

Xiuhtezcatl learned early on the value of speaking up. When he was 9, he attended a city council meeting with his friends. They took a stand against pesticide use in his community. The council heard their point of view. It helped ban the use of those chemicals. “If we put our voices out there, our elected officials will pay attention,” he says.

LEARN MORE: earthguardians.org

The Team Builder
Jamie Margolin, 17
Seattle, Washington

“We’re going to change history,” Jamie Margolin told The New York Times last summer. The high schooler was referring to Zero Hour, the group she co-created. Its mission is to ensure that government leaders listen to what youth have to say about climate change—then act on it. 

Zero Hour got its start in 2017 when Jamie posted on Instagram to propose a march in Washington, D.C. She hoped it would push lawmakers to update policies affecting climate change. Immediately, she heard from teens around the country who wanted to take part. With that, a movement was born.

Among Zero Hour’s requests for lawmakers are protection for endangered species, ending U.S. dependence on fossil fuels, and requiring environmental education in schools.

Over the past two years, the group has organized marches, written letters to government representatives, and generated tons of media coverage—like this story! This type of climate activism “is crucial to human survival,” Jamie has said.

LEARN MORE: thisiszerohour.org

“We’re going to change history,” Jamie Margolin told The New York Times last summer. The high schooler was referring to Zero Hour, the group she co-created. Its mission is to ensure that government leaders listen to what youth have to say about climate change—then act on it.

Zero Hour got its start in 2017 when Jamie posted on Instagram to propose a march in Washington, D.C. She hoped it would push lawmakers to update policies that affect climate change. Immediately, she heard from teens around the country who wanted to take part. With that, a movement was born.

Zero Hour’s requests for lawmakers include protection for endangered species and ending U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. Zero Hour also wants environmental education to be required in schools.

Over the past two years, the group has organized marches. It has written letters to government representatives. And it has generated tons of media coverage, like this story! This type of climate activism “is crucial to human survival,” Jamie has said.

LEARN MORE: thisiszerohour.org

The Be(e)lievers
Patrick Zhao, 18 (left)
Jason Liao, 17
Vancouver, Canada

Bees are critical to our planet’s survival. Just ask Patrick Zhao and Jason Liao, who founded the Pollinator Project in 2017. 

Pollinators are animals that move pollen from one plant to another, enabling plants to make fruits or seeds and reproduce. The Pollinator Project educates young people about how bees, as pollinators, are a key link in the food chain. Yet bee populations are rapidly declining because of pollution and habitat loss. That’s a problem, Jason says. Without bees, “it would be much more difficult to feed all the hungry mouths in the world.” 

The Pollinator Project has a simple but powerful plan to address that: Members of the student organization plant bee-attracting flowers and plants around their community. They also go door-to-door offering to help neighbors plant bee-friendly gardens.

In just two years, the Pollinator Project has grown to more than 130 members and planted dozens of community gardens and green spaces. For now, it operates in Canada only, but Patrick and Jason’s goal is truly global: to help bees—and, in turn, the world—thrive.

LEARN MORE: thepollinatorproject.info

Bees are critical to our planet’s survival. Just ask Patrick Zhao and Jason Liao. They founded the Pollinator Project in 2017.

Pollinators are animals that move pollen from one plant to another. This enables plants to make fruits or seeds and reproduce. The Pollinator Project educates young people about how bees, as pollinators, are a key link in the food chain. Yet bee populations are rapidly declining. That is because of pollution and habitat loss. That is a problem, Jason says. Without bees, “it would be much more difficult to feed all the hungry mouths in the world.”

The Pollinator Project has a simple but powerful plan to address that. Members of the student organization plant bee-attracting flowers and plants around their community. They also go door-to-door offering to help neighbors plant bee-friendly gardens.

In just two years, the Pollinator Project has grown to more than 130 members. It has planted dozens of community gardens and green spaces. For now, it operates in Canada only. But Patrick and Jason’s goal is truly global. They want to help bees—and, in turn, the world—thrive.

LEARN MORE: thepollinatorproject.info

How YOU Can Help

The U.S. is one of the top contributors to global warming, a key aspect of climate change. But there are plenty of ways to reduce the impact you have on the environment.

Power Down 
Unplug your electronics when they’re not in use. Also, try energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave a room.

Stop Food Waste 
Food that ends up in landfills releases methane, which contributes to global warming. Learn how students at your school can donate uneaten items to a food pantry at foodrescue.net.

Cut Your Plastic Use 
Bring reusable bags when you go shopping. And pack your lunch in reusable pouches or tins instead of plastic snack bags.

Power Down 
Unplug your electronics when they’re not in use. Also, try energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave a room.

Stop Food Waste 
Food that ends up in landfills releases methane, which contributes to global warming. Learn how students at your school can donate uneaten items to a food pantry at foodrescue.net.

Cut Your Plastic Use 
Bring reusable bags when you go shopping. And pack your lunch in reusable pouches or tins instead of plastic snack bags.

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