By McCalee Cain
On Saturday, Aug. 12, three nationally-renown environmental advocates shared their knowledge and experiences with the Sandpoint community, per the invitation of local climate group 350 Sandpoint. Aji Piper, 17, Gabe Mandell, 15, and Adonis Williams, 12, may be young, but their experience as activists goes beyond their years.
The three are ambassadors of the nonprofit Plant for the Planet, a group committed to offsetting carbon emissions by planting trees. The organization has already planted 14 billion trees worldwide, and they continue to approach their ultimate goal of one trillion.
“It’s not just us three planting all of those trees,” joked Mandell.
The meeting began with an array of introductions from local figures: area activist and Bonner County Human Rights Task Force member Linda Navarre, Mayor Shelby Rognstad, and “resident teen” Daniel Radford each shared a few words.
Williams kicked off the presentation with an explanation of the “simple science” of climate change. He guided the audience through a presentation examining the effects of climate change, as demonstrated by ice cap melting, rising sea levels, reservoir draining, droughts and wildfires. He then went on to explain that people of color are disproportionately affected by climate change, and further identify its implications on respective populations.
A musical performance of the boys’ original song “Danger” followed. Brothers Piper and Williams sang of the dire consequences of oil fracking and other environmentally-unfriendly practices, while Piper accompanied on the ukulele and Mandell jammed on the saxophone.
Next, Mandell was up to speak. He offered a more optimistic take on the climate change issue, coined “a scientific prescription”, that explained the action being taken to address the problem.
Piper followed with a recap of the case in which he is suing the federal government for aggregate climate action: Juliana et al. VS the U.S. Government et al. Piper is one of 21 plaintiffs under the age of 21 facing not only the government, but also a plethora of the nation’s biggest oil companies. He offered some advice as to what the audience can do to contribute to the effort: “Make a ruckus, let the world know you’re watching,” Piper said. “The judges need to know that people in the U.S. care, and that they’re watching.”
The trial is slated for Feb. 5 in Eugene, Ore.
The boys finished their presentation with a parody of Bruno Mars’ hit “Uptown Funk” called “Big Oil Funk,” warning of the danger that big oil companies pose to the earth.
Representatives from Idaho Conservation League and Wild Idaho Rising Tide offered closing words, and a call to action at the local level.
The event concluded with a tree planting ceremony in the Gardenia Center’s garden.
In the event of a Plant for the Planet chapter being formed in Sandpoint, the tree will be the first of many.
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