(Barbara Zanon, Italy)
Margot Francini is 17 years old, and she’s doing all that she can to bring power to the climate movement. She currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is a member of the political team for her local Sunrise hub, the Youth Leader in her Climate Reality chapter, youth activist for NC Warn, and a fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education. In these positions, she has learned about the intersectionality of the climate crisis with social issues.
Wanting to do more, lead more, and inspire others, I reached out to the youth-led organization Earth Uprising, and became the founding City Coordinator for Earth Uprising Chapel Hill. The task of creating my own team was daunting, but it has proved to be exhilarating and ultimately necessary to galvanize support for the climate movement in my hometown.
I created an instagram account (@earthuprisingchapelhill), reached out to friends who would be interested in joining, and also asked local environmental groups to spread the word. We’re currently planning a river cleanup and a protest for the Global Day for Climate Action on September 25 with other local environmental groups and concerned individuals. Even though we’re just getting set up, we have the passion to make great change.
My passion for protecting the climate was ignited when I was nine years old, and it hasn’t waned since, although with time I have realized how big the world is and how much power it will take to save it. But, I believe that our generation will be the one that finally ends our country’s history of inaction on climate change.
It is becoming worryingly cliché, but we must act soon, or it will be too late. I know this because I am already seeing the effects of climate change in Italy, the country where my family is from, when I visit them every year. I hear about the now frequent flooding of Venice and countless other towns, the bouts of insane downpours and hailstorms that touch down close to where my family lives, and the increasingly common summer heat waves that sweep across southern Europe.
My Nonna (grandmother) has cancer now, and it’s been difficult for her to find the strength to go outside during the day the past few summers--the hottest on record. The heat is so extreme that it instantly fatigues her, so she has to wait until it gets dark to get outside the house, limiting her ability to fully enjoy the last years of her life.
The heat is gradually affecting the mobility of my other family members and friends too, and when I visit, I notice how we spend more and more time inside each summer because of the broadcasted heat advisories. I am deeply concerned about the safety of my family.
It’s not fair that global warming affects those, like my grandmother, who contribute the least to it; this is the injustice that has motivated me to join the fight against climate change. Yet, the climate crisis also will not spare anyone, and signs that the warming of the earth are becoming impossible to ignore.
For example, when I was traveling alone to visit my family, I landed in Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome, and was greeted by something new: all of the vegetation that had grown around the airport had died. As I took the three-hour drive to my family’s town, gazing out the car window, I worried that the entirety of the beautiful Italian countryside would meet the same fate if nothing was done.
This small event--this abnormality in my otherwise protected view of the world--was certainly not an anomaly. I realized that there must be little disasters, little losses of life, occurring like this all around the world.
As a high school senior, I plan to go to college next year to study science communications, environmental health, and/or public policy. After college, I will dedicate my career and the rest of my life to fighting the crisis, whether it be through social advocacy, education, or research.
I want to pursue pushing for climate change to be a mandatory subject included in public schools’ curricula, because I believe education is the basis for the galvanization of any movement. My hope is that effective legislative and economic incentives will decrease the threat of cataclysmic, irreversible, ecological disaster. I will not give up, no matter how much resistance I face in the future.
Looking back on my childhood, I thought the world was my oyster. I thought that if I worked hard, I could do anything. This is still true, but my future is no longer guaranteed. However, I believe in the power that I and the rest of my generation have in changing our country’s history of inaction on the climate crisis into one of exemplary change. I will not let our future slip between my fingers. I will not watch the world decay without doing something to stop it.