She's just 13 years old, but she's "a threat."
That's climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor, who explained in an interview Friday morning, "My generation is going to have to live in a climate-changed world, and the fact that nothing was done in order to make sure that we don't live in planetary catastrophe—it's very disappointing and it's upsetting."
A recent New York City transplant, Villaseñor—taking inspiration from Swedish teen Greta Thunberg—has been standing in front of the United Nations every Friday for 11 weeks. She's also co-leading the U.S. Youth Climate Strike movement, which is organizing to get thousands of students to take part in a global day of climate action on March 15.
In a tweet sent following her interview with CBS News, the teenager appeared shocked that she had actually gone on national television and "told all the adults in America that they are threatened by us!"
In fact, "yes, you are a threat," responded author and climate activist Naomi Klein, "because believing climate science means embracing deep change to a way of life that has long been equated with freedom and power (but is, in fact, a straight shot to utter powerlessness and loss of freedom)."
So strong clear. And yes, you are a threat because believing climate science means embracing deep change to a way of life that has long been equated with freedom and power (but is, in fact, a straight shot to utter powerlessness and loss of freedom) https://t.co/4QDCwt049u
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) February 22, 2019
To those who criticize the young activists and may not believe in climate science, she said they "find it very threatening to their beliefs."
She does, however, have the support of her parents. "If I'm not going to have a future then school won't matter because we're going to be running from disasters. We're not going to have time to go to school because our house will be ruined by the latest hurricane, and they understand that this is important to my generation because we're going to have to live in this world."
To avert such disasters, U.S. Climate Strike is demanding that lawmakers implement the recently-introduced Green New Deal and that world leaders keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
WEEK 11 of my @UN #ClimateStrike in NYC! First I went to @CBSNews, then to the @unfoundation - but THIS is the most important action of my day! @GretaThunberg started the hashtag #WhateverItTakes, and we must do Whatever It Takes to #ActOnClimate! #SchoolStrike4Climate @350 @NRDC pic.twitter.com/mv8WA8oqwN
— Alexandria Villasenor (@AlexandriaV2005) February 22, 2019
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She concluded the interview with a message for climate science deniers: "To quote Greta, change is coming whether you like it or not."
Villaseñor and fellow youth activists want to make sure that happens.
Thousands of young feet have been hitting the pavement to highlight the urgency of the climate crisis with Friday climate strikes, and Thunberg has been documenting the spreading movement she catalyzed. She also joined thousands of student marchers in Paris on Friday.
Massive! Thousands of students marching on the streets of #Paris, joined by @GretaThunberg & tens of thousands around the world.
The youth are rising & they want our future back.#ActOnClimate #climat #climate #energy #FridaysForFuture #climatestrike via @gloriamika pic.twitter.com/vRtCHk3xK2
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) February 22, 2019
With the ongoing strikes, including the upcoming global coordinated actions, "I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful," she recently told the Guardian.
Aaron Gray-Block, a climate communications specialist with Greenpeace International, agrees. He writes Friday:
The inspirational climate strikes from Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Villasenor in the U.S. and many others like them show the kind of resolve and sense of purpose required. The youth suing their governments in the U.S. and Germany are also leading the way.
Now, in the lead-up to an international school climate strike on March 15, we must all show solidarity to the youth taking action.
"It must not be left to the young to clean up the climate mess older generations have created," he adds. "There is still time to avert chaos, but it requires the world's politicians and corporations to accept and embrace the responsibility of action."