News / USA

    New Generation Revolutionizes Environmental Activism

    Internet, social networking help build global movements more quickly

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Faiza Elmasry

    Environmental activists have relied on public pressure, boycotts and confrontation to advance their cause over the past few decades. Now, a new generation of eco-warriors is revolutionizing environmental activism.

    While traveling the globe campaigning against whaling, Emily Hunter met many innovative eco-warriors.

    'The Next Eco-Warriors' shares the stories of a new generation of activists who tackle issues of climate change, marine conservation, the rainforest and other environmental concerns.
    'The Next Eco-Warriors' shares the stories of a new generation of activists who tackle issues of climate change, marine conservation, the rainforest and other environmental concerns.

    “There are people like Jamie Henn who used the Internet with 350.org, to mobilize and connect a global climate movement into being," says Hunter. "People like Tania Field, an African-American woman and single mother in the Bronx, New York, who used urban farming actually as a tool for change."

    Field created a natural space for the community where neighbors could come together and build a project to get access to food.

    "And a place where other women like herself could get training and workshops and really empower themselves,” says Hunter.

    Hunter grew up with environmental activism. Her parents were co-founders of Greenpeace. Her father, Robert Hunter, led the first on-sea protest against whaling and campaigned against nuclear testing and climate change. Time magazine named him one of the Eco-Heroes of the 20th century. His daughter says the 21st century eco-movement is different.

    “There is much more diversity going on than before. I feel like the faces and the voices are not just of white, rich people. It’s of people from all kinds of backgrounds and actually from all around the world.”

    Emily Hunter, author of 'The Next Eco-Warriors'
    Emily Hunter, author of 'The Next Eco-Warriors'

    Hunter asked 22 of those people to write their own stories for a new book. In "The Next Eco-Warriors," Kenyan Kevin Ochieng, 24, tells of leading 5,000 young people in a march up Mt. Kenya to draw attention to the problem of climate change and demand government action against global warming.  

    Chinese activist Wen Bo writes of raising awareness about protecting the environment.

    “He gathered students on environmental issues. That was just after the Tiananmen Square had occurred. So this is a very risky thing to be doing around that time," says Hunter. "They just did a very peaceful tour to a wilderness area in Yunan that was an unprotected area. It was being hacked down and being logged to destruction, killing a lot of biodiversity in this region and destroying cultures that were there too. So by just...highlighting the issue, they were actually able to expose it enough that the Chinese government later put protection laws to protect the Yunan wilderness area.”

    While women have always been part of the environmental movement, Hunter says, more are taking a leading role today. One example is Elizabeth Redmond, who uses innovation to create a flooring system that you can walk on to generate power.

    “For a long time I was really putting the idea out there and getting a lot of traction in the press and seeking to inspire and educate people about this possibility as the future of energy,” Redmond says.

    The surfaces created by Redmond’s company, PowerLeap, use piezoelectricity, which converts the vibrations from walking, dancing or running into energy that can be stored for future use.

    In "The Next Eco-Warriors," Native American activist Enie Begaye shares the story behind the Black Mesa Coalition, an inter-tribal, inter-ethnic organization founded to end strip mining on the Navaho reservation’s land in Northern Arizona.

    “It does have environmental effects on the land and that pollution of the land, air and water, but it also had really cultural and social effects for us in this area, Black Mesa,” says Begaye.

    They won that battle, but immediately faced another - fossil fuel development was a major provider of jobs on the reservation. Their mission now, Begaye says, is to create “green jobs.”

    “An example is using our traditional knowledge and combining it with maybe our western education. We take something like weaving. A lot of women do weave rugs from sheep wool. Taking that and maybe combining it with marketing structure and building a weavers’ co-op that can market those rugs through the Internet and we’ll be able to reach a whole new audience of customers.”

    To explore those possibilities and spread their message, Hunter says, these new eco-warriors are using all the new technology at their disposal.

    “I think the old tools are just not as effective as they used to be. Hanging a banner or lobbying government or signing a petition, while all that can still be effective, but it’s no longer as effective as it used to be 30 or 40 years ago. I think it’s more effective using a whole new assortment of tools including the Internet, social networking, using websites to connect people, being able to create a space where people from all over the world can connect, can learn about events and actions, take part and can really build a global kind of movement.”

    That’s why Hunter believes this is an exciting time for the environmental movement. She challenges young people to become change makers in their communities and their world.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.