Today, rising temperatures are causing chaos on our planet. Yet, despite it all, some people are standing up to encourage change that could save us on a global scale. Consider five thought leaders who are making a difference.
1. Catherine Mckenna
Canadian lawyer and politician Catherine Mckenna once served as the Canadian government’s minister of environment and climate change. Now she chairs a group appointed by the UN Secretary-General tasked with raising awareness about the climate emergency and developing plans to resolve it.
“We can tackle climate change; we just have to change how we look at things. We have to stop looking at it as a 2050 problem.”
2. Elizabeth Mrema
Ms. Mrema was born in Tanzania but today lives in Canada. She is also the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. She is approaching the challenge of climate change differently than Mckenna. She is looking for a biological solution to the problem.
“I grew up seeing our villages full of trees. But as I continued to grow… the outlook began changing. The bush, the forest I was seeing, you see more holes and spaces, [and] the weather kept changing. And as I speak, even those rivers – when you hear the water flowing in the streams at the backyard – have completely dried up.”
3. Inger Andersen
Inger Andersen is a Danish economist who serves as the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme. Andersen has spent most of her career working towards a better world. She spent many of her early years working in Sudan and focusing on famine and drought relief.
Today, her focus is on the devastation extreme weather is causing people all over the globe. She believes there is an inequity in the suffering and states that justice must be part of the climate change solution.
“When we know that one in three African citizens have faced water scarcity, then we understand climate inequality, then we understand that those folks who are my neighbors here in Nairobi are producing very, very low CO2 emissions.”
4. Osprey Orielle Lake
Osprey Orielle Lake is the founder of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network or WECAN. This organization works on the frontlines to create change to help sustain the planet. They aim to engage women disproportionately impacted by the climate emergency to take direct action and fight back. They do everything from holding seminars to working on the ground to save the forests.
“The climate crisis emerged from interlocking systems of capitalism, resource extraction, racism, patriarchy, and colonization. It’s beyond past time to end the tragic cycle of endless economic growth based on sacrificed peoples and sacrificed lands.”
5. Greta Thunberg
This young woman has become a household name thanks to her fight for the planet. Born in 2003, Thunberg gained notoriety for her school climate strikes and bold public speeches. She gave a fiery speech during the 2018 plenary session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference that made headlines.
“We can no longer let the people in power decide what is politically possible. We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is. Hope is not passive.”
Together, these thought leaders and many others are working to create a more sustainable planet.