I care about climate justice because, first and foremost, climate change hurts the world’s poor, weak, and vulnerable. At 350 Action New Hampshire, I’ve just begun to work with a group of other young climate voters who share my concerns. Through direct action and bird-dogging — asking politicians to take a stance on important issues — 350 Action works to challenge all candidates (national, state, and local) on their climate policies.
But until recently, climate change by itself was never enough to get me involved. For a while, I thought that climate change was too big and abstract to really matter. For a long time climate change was just another issue among many others.
Then, on a whim, I showed up to my first 350 Action meeting. I was extremely impressed by the people I met there, all of whom cared deeply about the intersection of climate change and other matters of justice, like economic inequality, that I also cared about. It was the people—committed, passionate, and well-informed about local and national politics—who drew me in.
I recently attended my first protest in Manchester, New Hampshire, against a speech by Donald Trump. The climate movement’s least-favorite billionaire was in Manchester to make a speech about free trade in the parking lot of an old factory. I was there with people from 350 New Hampshire, NextGen Climate, and other local organizations, all of whom had plenty of reasons to #DumpTrump. It was a blast. I held signs, got interviewed by the local news, and even wore a fake Hazmat suit at one point (because Trump is toxic).
Living in the Granite State, we climate volunteers have a unique opportunity to influence national politics every campaign season. And of course, we can’t stand back and assume that because New Hampshire is more conservative it’s impossible to change things. In particular, climate change gives us a unique opportunity because so many people here, especially students and young people, are deeply passionate about it. It is a unifying issue that brings together a diverse array of people with many other intersectional concerns, including local activists who otherwise might not find one another. That is why I’m happy to have started with 350, that’s why I’m glad I reached out, and that’s why New Hampshire needs people passionate about climate justice!
Paul Goodspeed is a history major at Saint Anselm College and, most recently, a new volunteer at 350 Action.