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Climate Change: Listen to the Teenagers

Most American teenagers are convinced that humans are changing the Earth’s climate and fear it will harm them personally as well as their generation, according to a new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Increasingly, teenagers are staging walkouts from school, demonstrating, and speaking out, warning adults that what they are doing is literally threatening their future.

An inspiration for many is Greta Thunberg, 16, who staged a year-long "strike" in front of the Swedish Parliament and sailed across the Atlantic in a carbon-neutral sailboat to draw attention to the crisis.

As the United Nations prepares for its September 23 Climate Action Summit, thousands of teenagers are planning to skip school to demand more aggressive actions to protect the planet.

While some may cynically say, "Oh, those kids will use any excuse to get out of school," these teens are serious. They realize that the future of the earth is at stake, that generations before them have irresponsibly caused global warming threatening our planet.

“People feel very guilty when a child says, ‘You are stealing my future.’ That has impact,” Thunberg told The Washington Post. “We have definitely made people open their eyes.”

All of this comes amid an atmosphere of denial by the Trump administration and its Republican supporters in Congress, as action after action seeks to reverse the safeguards and actions established by previous administrations, especially that of Barack Obama.

The major Democratic candidates for president uniformly have put forth proposals to deal with the climate change crisis, and that is good. Meanwhile, there is no telling how much more damage will be imposed upon us -- and generations to come -- by the climate change deniers who are now in power.

"Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it," declares the UN's website announcing the Climate Action Summit. "There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society."

The Summit is intended to accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, from which President Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States. It will showcase "a leap in collective national political ambition" to combat climate change, the UN's announcement says, adding that it will "send strong market and political signals and inject momentum in the 'race to the top' among countries, companies, cities and civil society that is needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals."

Of course, today the United States, led by Trump, is engaged in a "race to the bottom," one that follows an irresponsible path that threatens the future for those teenagers who are engaged in protest, their younger brothers and sisters, and those still unborn.

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