Ever since I first learned about climate change I knew this was a very serious threat that the human race had never experienced before.
My name is Chris Larson, I am a 22 year living in Cedar Rapids Iowa and I’m involved in climate activism.Middle school science was probably the first time I learned about the magnitude of our overconsumption and pollution and we probably only talked about it for a day or two. Each year that went by the situation was getting worse but they kept teaching it to us like it was centuries away from being a legitimate threat. On my own I would read articles about how animals were going extinct and entire ecosystems were on the brink of collapse, I would see pictures of mountains of plastic pollution and clear cut forests, and the whole time I thought that it couldn’t be as bad as it looked.
I was just a child and adults were so wise and wouldn’t allow something this bad to happen right? I would ask my mom about it and she would always respond the same, “They’ll figure something out and fix it, don’t worry. I’ve lived through the cold war, and Y2k and it always turns out ok.” This would make me feel better for a bit but every year it was only getting worse and I was beginning to realize that “They” weren’t going to fix this. There was no magical group of people that were creating a cure for this crisis. The politicians, and mega corporations that we all refer to as “They” were the ones causing this problem and denying how dire the situation was. For a while I felt completely helpless and constantly anxious about my future. My girlfriend and I decided not to have kids because the future of this planet was not looking good.
Then my wonderful girlfriend decided that we had to do something and she decided to start striking outside of city hall in Cedar Rapids and demanding that the city declare a climate emergency. At first I thought this was a waste of her time and would only result in people shouting horrible things at her and it wouldn’t change anybody’s mind, but I wasn’t about to let her go through all that torture alone. So I went with her and although the thought of striking was extremely scary, it turned out to not be so bad. Almost every person that walked by said we were doing great things and that climate change was a very big deal. We went every Friday for about six months. After the first couple weeks The Sunrise movement in Cedar Rapids got ahold of us and we started attending monthly meeting with other people who were trying to make a difference. We planned bigger strikes and Bridget and Jason with sunrise worked with city council to get a climate resolution passed to meet the targets of the Paris Accords. All this because my girlfriend, ONE PERSON, decided to do something.
Ever since joining sunrise I’ve felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. People are the solution to this crisis, one person can get a climate resolution passed in a medium sized city in the midwest, but an army of activists is the only way to get the entire world to get the work done to save our planet. I encourage anyone who cares about the planet to join a local climate group.