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Reynolds High School senior Chepe Carrillo explains why young voices are a powerful force in conversations about climate change.

By the time my baby sister reaches the age of 14, about ten years from now, her climate fate will be sealed, and she may never truly experience the outside world as a beautiful place. The thought of this makes me upset. I'm uneasy.

I sat on the concrete in July, with several other students right in front of Gresham City Hall hoping to run into my state senator. I thought about our climate future and the jeopardy we face by 2030 when, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, we must be on our way to cutting climate pollution in half. After the recent demonstrations in the streets, I think it's safe to say tens of thousands of other students agree, in Oregon — and millions more worldwide.

Over the past few years, Oregon has not done enough to address the climate crisis. I've read about wildfire seasons, which are burning hotter and LONGER each year. And while temperatures continue to rise, our generation demands our state leaders live up to their oath of office and to leave a healthy world for us.

Elected leaders continue to put off action on the climate crisis. They have put future generations at risk of more years breathing unchecked air pollution from dirty energy sources. I have learned about dark money groups with ties to oil and gas spending money to derail the Clean Energy Jobs bill and Boeing's role to influence the senator from my district.

Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, who told people she supported the bill all along, has put my and my sister's futures at risk after she turned her back at the last possible minute. That's why I sat down in July and wrote a letter to her. Unfortunately, when attempting to deliver the letter, her office was empty. Still that day was quite impactful, frustrating and yet motivational.

I'm thankful for classmates, like my friend Victoria, who really helped me understand the benefits of getting involved. I learned about the proposed Clean Energy Jobs legislation. This law would hold large, corporate polluters accountable for the air pollution they create.

Last year, Victoria and I attended the first climate strike held by students in Portland — outside City Hall, and I'll never forget it. Her and I, along with thousands of activists all stood outside Portland City Hall and it was quite the powerful day.

I'm inspired to see this year's youth climate strike grow to include events not only in Portland, but in Bend, Cottage Grove, Roseburg, Eugene, Ashland, Newport, Salem, Grants Pass, Oregon City, Klamath Falls, Corvallis, La Grande, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Medford, Phoenix, Seaside. And many of us will be filling out ballots next year.

Climate youth activism works, and it's power grows by the year, and the world will continue to hear our voice. I'll only be 28 years old in 2030. As we imagine our adult lives, there's so much fear for us on a daily basis because not enough is being done to prevent the largest disaster we've ever faced.

We all have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent this disaster. It is time we make it so large polluters start doing theirs. Our state leaders can't fail us again.

Chepe Carrillo

Reynolds High School senior


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