Growing up in Concord, New Hampshire, I was rarely exposed to poverty. I lived in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood and had few, if any, concerns about economic injustice.
This all changed in fourth grade when The Great Recession hit. Suddenly, talk spread of rising unemployment and a crash in the stock market. These numbers meant very little to my ten-year-old self. What my I did see was the increasing number of homeless men and women populating street corners around Concord, pleading for money. This struck a chord for me, and for the first time I realized not everyone had the same comforts and financial stability as I did. The first thing I did was write an inarticulate letter to newly elected President Obama describing my various concerns about the increasing homeless population, and why big banks were being bailed out. Why couldn’t the poor in my area receive the same treatment?
Large corporations contribute towards pollution on a scale immensely disproportional to that of Americans possessing far less wealth, such as those homeless men and women I first witnessed at the ripe age of 10. The older I have gotten, the more aware I have become of the environmental crisis facing our world, and how interconnected the issues of wealth disparity and the environment truly are. These disparities are aided by decisions such as Citizens United, leaving our fragile democracy vulnerable. Even though I am young, I know that the effects of climate change will not be felt by all equally. Growing income inequality has direct repercussions on the way climate change impacts people: as the poor lose financial security and access to services, they simultaneously become more and more prone to the adverse impacts of global climate change.
The climate crisis is the most perilous problem facing all humans. No longer can being young like me be used as justification for inaction. Young people like me can get together and organize for power, which is what the climate movement is all about – presidential candidates will be hearing from us this primary season in New Hampshire!
Sebastian Hart-Meyer, 16, is a high school student from Concord, NH. He collects baseball cards,plays tennis and enjoys landscaping in his free time.