Every two weeks TckTckTck proudly recognizes one of the 280+ partner organizations that make up our global climate movement.
This week we are delighted to share our interview with the inspirational Alec Loorz. After founding Kids vs. Global Warming at the age of 12, Alec has spent his entire teenage life speaking to hundreds of thousands of youth and adults on climate change issues. This weekend he launches his next big initiative – a global youth march on climate issues called iMatter. Learn more about his inspirations, ambitions and how to transform teenage ‘slacktivists’ into activists.
TCK: Tell us about Kids VS Global Warming and the iMatter March campaign. How did this start and where are you headed?
ALEC: I became an activist four years ago, when I was 12, after seeing Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” and getting into a heated argument with my best friend about it. I decided I wanted to give presentations just like Al Gore, but when I applied to attend his slide show training sessions, they turned me down, saying I was too young. I just went ahead and made my own presentation and started reaching out to my peers anyway…and that is how Kids vs Global Warming was born. Since then, I’ve spoken to over 250,000 people, and now our focus is the iMatter March. Beginning May 7, youth from all over the world will come together and march in our streets to send out a wake-up call to the ruling generation that the climate crisis isn’t about money or power…it’s about our future. My generation and those to follow are the ones most impacted by our addiction to fossil fuels, and so we are demanding that our governments put Climate Recovery Plans into place for our sake.
TCK: Recently we saw an amazing response to the Power Shift 2011 conference in Washington DC, and many other similar youth gatherings are taking place around the world which signify a major engagement of the youth in the climate change movement. How do you think that mobilizing youth globally in this manner can bolster the international process of addressing global warming?
ALEC: I believe that if we want to reverse global warming before it’s too late, it will take a revolution. A revolution that that has to change the mindset of every person on this planet, so that we value nature and the future of our generation more than profits and power.
There is only one thing I can think of that most people value more than money, and that is their own children. Only children can look into their parents’ and leaders’ eyes and ask them, “Do I matter to you?” That is a force more powerful than any corporate lobbyist, and it can motivate the “revolutionary” change that is really needed.
We are the ones who will have to grow up and deal with the consequences of climate change if nothing is done now. And I’ve found that young people are some of the most creative, most dedicated, and most passionate people on the planet. And when we discover that we are called to something, we can be the most powerful force in the world.
TCK: What are your greatest hopes for the iMatter Marches starting this weekend?
ALEC: Well on the one hand, I’m hoping that hundreds of thousands youth march in the streets around the world will take place, and that the ruling generation looks up long enough to realize that climate change is not just a political issue that can be debated and ignored. It’s a human rights issue and a matter of inter-generational justice.
But it’s about more than just how many kids we get to show up.
The Mother’s Day marches are the launch of the iMatter campaign, whose goal is to bring together young people from all around the world, and unite to show the world that WE matter and ignite action. It is the beginning of a mass movement of young people, standing up for our future. So as long as one young person realizes that they matter, and one leader is inspired to take action, I will view this campaign as a success.
TCK: As you know, TckTckTck brings together more than 280 partners globally who are working to stop climate change. These organizations come from a very diverse and broad range of sectors and countries. What value do you see in being part of this alliance?
ALEC: Climate change is the most urgent crisis our species has ever faced. And if we want to solve it before it’s too late, it will take all of us. It will take every government, organization, business, and person working together toward the common goal of creating a sustainable and just society. This is why it’s such an honor to be a part of the TckTckTck alliance. Together, I believe we can stop global warming within the lifetime of my generation, no matter how crazy and impossible that seems.
TCK: What’s the role of youth in the climate movement, and how can TckTckTck partners effectively engage youth?
ALEC: Youth really are the moral authority on the issue of climate change. It’s our future that’s at stake, we will be stuck living with the decisions that are made now, whether good or bad, and so our voices really do matter.
I work with students, ages 11-17 mostly. And I’ve seen them move from apathy and mild interest to passionate engagement by empowering them with the understanding that this crisis will affect them most and that their voices and actions matter. Young people can easily feel overwhelmed, like there is nothing they can do about this global crisis. When they are inspired and given a vision of their own power to bring about the change we need, it is amazing to see how passionate they become.
I know it is difficult to move teenagers beyond slacktivism, however, with people my age. But you don’t need every single student in the school. You just need one. And, I know from experience that there is a leader in every school who is passionate about the climate crisis already. They just need a little encouragement from an activist in the TckTckTck network…and just one leader can bring about change from their entire school.
Focus on those leaders, mentor them, listen to them, empower them, trust them. And they will be your greatest allies to bring about deep-rooted grassroots change. All I can say is simply trust that young people have something important to say, we have a voice, and we can be some of the most passionate people on this planet. This is our revolution. This is our time.
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