Last week, Minnesota youth took a courageous step for climate action on a sunny, snow-free January day in St. Paul. Amid nervous cheers, the country’s first youth-led state-level Green New Deal effort met with the state’s new governor. It’s the latest sign that the the idea of promoting social and environmental progress together is gaining steam.
When I walked into the gilded conference room at the Minnesota State Capitol last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As a meteorologist, the governor’s suite was unfamiliar territory. It was jarring, to say the least.
The clear-eyed enthusiasm among the youth was infectious. I spoke to a dozen or so teenagers, and nearly every one of them regarded asking for radical changes to their state directly from its leader as a commonsense step. They knew what was on the line, and they knew it was up to them to motivate the progress to preserve their futures.
That’s the kind of courage we all need: Prioritizing justice over convenience, and necessity over the status quo.
In my heart, I’m still a small-town Kansas kid who loves the weather and just wants to preserve our planet’s beauty and give every person a shot at living healthy, safe, and happy lives.
Maybe that’s why it felt so comfortable, in that moment, to be surrounded by more than a hundred kids from all over Minnesota. They were chatting about debate team practice and hockey and giddy that they got a day off of school to plead their case face-to-face with their elected officials.
At the event, Governor Tim Walz announced he would immediately establish a statewide cross-agency working group on climate change, and his 18-year-old daughter stood up and said she’d hold him accountable.
Taken in the context of the ongoing worldwide school strike for climate and millennial lawmakers shaking up the current system, the no-nonsense attitude of today’s climate politics might just be enough to spur the change needed.