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Why Climate Change Is No Longer Shocking Enough

'Young people will be the generation most affected by the climate crisis if we do nothing,' writes McDermott. (Image:

Secret emails and the wives of candidates have been among the recent dominant headlines related to the 2016 presidential race. While entertaining, these stories are an insult to our democracy. Whether the media realizes it or not, what actually matters to voters are policies, ideas, and solutions.

Where is climate change in this equation? Just nine questions were asked about climate change in the first eight presidential primary debates as of mid-January, according to Media Matters.

Climate change is a unifier. It’s a unique issue in its ability to exacerbate countless other social issues. Social justice issues like public health, education, criminal justice, poverty, and economic opportunity all intersect with climate change. To put the magnitude into perspective, researchers from the University College of London have concluded that climate change is the biggest public health crisis of the 21st century.  The New York Times reported on a study concluding that by the end of the century, the act of simply being outside for several hours could be deadly in some parts of the world.  All of the consequences of climate change are not yet fully understood, but they are ever more near.

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With all this being said, there has been little to no discussion of climate change in the race for the presidency. Even while Republicans still play down the consequences - and even the reality - of climate change, debate moderators and reporters have done little to push them on these stances.  

Back in the real world, 97% of climate scientists have determined that climate change is happening and caused by human activity. And, it’s already affecting people and places all over the world. Climate change should be the issue of the 2016 election, but the only way for this to happen is if the media partners with the people to put actual issues ahead of circus-like entertainment value. This is also where young people must come in.

As powerful as the media may be, at a certain point it becomes impossible for any entity to ignore the voices of a multitude of vocal activists. This is why I’m excited that the Get Loud Challenge exists. The Get Loud Challenge, designed and launched by Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), is a climate action competition to engage young people in the climate movement. It provides a platform to unite the voices of young people along with specific actions they can take, including: petitions, scripts for phone calls, and social media posts that can be used and shared to pressure the media to responsibly cover climate change.

The Get Loud Challenge provides a platform like no other for youth to establish their voice in the national dialogue on the climate crisis. Youth are the most direct stakeholders when it comes to climate change, as its catastrophic implications become more and more obvious by the day. Young people will be the generation most affected by the climate crisis if we do nothing. Youth have a unique perspective and moral authority, and when it comes to fighting for the attention that our future depends on, we have an obligation to make our voices heard. Will you join the Get Loud Challenge today?

Brian McDermott

Brian McDermott is a student living in Massachusetts and an Action Fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education, teaming with other Boston-area high school students to fight for climate justice.

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