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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid