Hope for the planet: A teenage indigenous environmental leader shows us what's possible

The Washington Post reported today that a recent Trump administration environmental impact report anticipates an increase of 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) in global temperatures by the end of this century. To put that in perspective, scientists have been warning that even a 2 degree Celsius increase is not safe, with devastating effects for ecosystems and human life on the planet - rising sea levels threatening to put coastal cities underwater, decreased availability of freshwater, heatwaves causing crop devastation, and much more.

Faith communities are increasingly recognizing the risk of climate change to our sacred planet and stepping up to try to change this trajectory, organizing in compelling ways to advance theologies of creation care and mobilize their people to take action. From the Global Catholic Climate Movement to the Global Muslim Climate Network to GreenFaith to GoodLands and many more, people of faith are creating and advocating for solutions.

One of our favorite stories is that of teenager Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who, inspired by his Aztec heritage, became an environmental leader at age 6. Through Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl has been empowering other young people to become leaders in the proactive defense of our planet. He not only inspires us that we can change the course of climate change but teaches us that supporting young people means rooting them in community and values but also giving them the space and encouragement to lead us with their ideas and passion.

Take a moment to be inspired by Xiuhtezcatl in this Teen Vogue op-ed and this video about his story. Then share with a young person you know. And get involved with Earth Guardians or one of the many other organizations driving change for our planet and humanity.

I think categorizing young people as environmental activists is detrimental to getting people involved because, in my opinion, it’s not about being an activist. It’s about recognizing the power you have to make a difference.
— Xiuhtezcatl Martinez