Voices raise awareness at climate-action lectures

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez speaks March 24 at Coupeville High School as part of the Trudy Sundberg Memorial Lecture Series.

The voice of experience and the voice of youth came together to speak about climate change at the 2017 Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series.

And the voices were in agreement.

“Yes, people are impacting the climate,” said 16-year-old Xiuhtezcatl (shoe-TEZ-caht) Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians, an organization of activists, artists and musicians from across the globe. “But this is not about saving the climate, this is about saving the people.”

Martinez, from Boulder, Colo., spoke to packed houses on March 24 at Coupeville High School Performing Arts Center and March 25 at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. He was joined by KC Golden, senior policy adviser at Climate Solutions in Seattle and Board Chair at 350.org, a global climate advocacy group.

Golden said 350.org is named for the target level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere generally accepted by scientists as needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. The current CO2 level is above 400.

During his remarks, Golden showed an image of the globe at the current CO2 level labeled “Earth” and another with higher levels labeled “Toast.”

“People ask, ‘Couldn’t we consider a more reasonable number than 350?’” Golden said. “It isn’t a matter of what is reasonable. It is what it is. You don’t negotiate with physics.”

Golden warned against cynicism, calling it capitulation: “The ability to turn the corner on climate change is now within our reach.”

Martinez said he comes from a family of activists and started his own efforts at age 6. The idea behind the Earth Guardians is that young people can make a difference by raising their voices and letting adults know that they are concerned about the environment. The group supports local youth-led “crews” across the U.S. and world that organize to make a difference in their own area. There is a Whidbey Island Earth Guardian crew.

Audience questions ranged from how to deal with the climate impact of naval air operations to the best ways to use purchasing power to combat the problem.

“We can’t say we are anti-military because we are pro-climate,” Martinez replied. “That’s not going to get people on your side.”

Golden argued for making wise transportation choices. “Don’t feel guilty about pumping gas, but feel great and empowered when you do it less often,” he said. Golden also reminded people of the power of divesting from companies that are heavy carbon polluters.

Martinez urged the audiences to consider making personal choices such as supporting local and organic agriculture and cutting meat and dairy from their diets.

The Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series is sponsored by Trudy Sundberg Memorial Fund. Sundberg was known for her commitment as an Oak Harbor High School educator and community leader whose causes ranged from progressive politics to founding the Save Our Kids Crusade to supporting the arts and promoting the Whidbey Camano Land Trust. Family members, friends and the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation joined together to establish the memorial fund to underwrite a lecture series in Sundberg’s name that reflects her many areas of interest and promote lifelong learning. Oak Harbor’s Marshall Goldberg chairs the lecture series planning committee.

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation appreciates the funding support for the 2017 lecture series provided by Whidbey Sun and Wind, Coupeville; Windermere Real Estate South Whidbey, the Tulalip Tribes and Humanities Washington.