Youth climate activists as young as 7 years old confronted California Senator Dianne Feinstein last week in San Francisco, demanding she sign on to the Green New Deal. We speak with 12-year-old Rio and his sister, 10-year-old Magdalena, who were among the protesters who spoke to Senator Feinstein. They are members of Earth Guardians San Francisco Bay Area Crew.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to two more of the youth climate activists who confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein last week in her office. Twelve-year-old Rio and his 10-year-old sister, Magdalena, are with Earth Guardians San Francisco Bay Area Crew. I began by asking Magdalena about her reaction to how Senator Feinstein addressed their call to support the Green New Deal.
MAGDALENA: Well, first of all, I want to say that I’m really thankful and grateful that she let us in and that we got to actually have a seat and talk. But I think that she could have been a little more respectful in how she communicated with us. But it’s not about her. It’s more about getting the Green New Deal and having actually a place to live. Because I saw a sign, and it said, “There is no planet B,” and I totally agree with that, because this—we have things that we don’t think other planets have, that we need to preserve and protect, like oceans that are getting warmed, the polar ice caps that are getting melted, animals that are getting killed and endangered, that we need to save.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the clip of you all confronting Senator Feinstein. This is that clip.
RIO: We are trying to ask you to vote yes on the Green New Deal.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: OK, I’ll tell you what. We have our own Green New Deal.
MAGDALENA: The government is supposed to be for the people, by the people and all for the people.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: You know what’s interesting about this group is, I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here, and you say, “It has to be my way or the highway.” I don’t respond to that.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Senator Feinstein. Rio and Magdalena, you were very vocal there. So, Rio, there you saying, “Why don’t you support the Green New Deal?” And Senator Feinstein says she has a lot more experience than you do. What’s your response?
RIO: Well, I just think that we’re the ones that are going to be having to live with it. And what the world is going to be like in 10 years, 12 years, we’re going to have to live with it. So, saying that we don’t have experience? Yes, we don’t have experience, but we have the will, because this is going to be our future.
AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think the Green New Deal is so important, Rio?
RIO: Well, I feel like, ever since I was 2 years old, I have had a love for the ocean, marine life. And I’m scared that climate change will take that from me and the world. And I’m scared that it’s going to—everything is just going to be messed up, like everyone’s future is just going to be terrible. And I think that the Green New Deal is a big step into preserving our future. And that’s why I think it should be a thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Rio, Senator Feinstein said she has seven grandchildren. What message do you have for her grandchildren?
RIO: Well, I think that they’re going to be the ones, alongside of us, that are going to have to be dealing with houses being flooded and forest fires and natural disasters. And I think that—I want them to know that they can make a difference, like what we have done. Like, I did not expect this, but it just shows how powerful our voices are.
AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to turn to another young person, the teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. We met her in Poland. She addressed the U.N. climate summit there in December. And she is leading the school strike movement around the world. She stands outside the Swedish parliament every Friday. This is what she had to say at the U.N. climate summit.
GRETA THUNBERG: The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.
Until you start focusing on what needs to be done, rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. She was 15 at the time. And she criticizes the leaders, saying they’re acting like children. And so, as a child, she’s saying the real children should lead. Have you ever heard of her, Magdalena?
MAGDALENA: Oh, yes. I love her. And, actually, I talked to my teacher about her, because we have like—sometimes at women’s history night, women’s history, we have like—we can do women, and so I made a note if I could do her. You know, I made a card on it and said—and, yeah, I can do her. And I just think she’s really awesome, that she shows no matter how small you are, you can make a difference. And she just is—I just love her.
AMY GOODMAN: And Rio?
RIO: So, how I started was, I was sort of in depression, thinking about how humans have been living on this Earth and stuff, and I channeled my emotions into action. And she was—Greta Thunberg was one of the people that inspired me. Me and my sister and my mom watched the video—well, a video of her. And it really inspired me to take action and use my voice. So that’s actually how we created the Bay Area Earth Guardians Crew.
AMY GOODMAN: So, finally, what’s your next step? You confronted Senator Feinstein. We’ll see what happens, whether she will ultimately support the Green New Deal, probably because of what you did. What are you going to do now?
RIO: Well, there’s going to be a youth climate—a youth, like, global climate strike, led by youth, and mainly schoolchildren, who will be walking out of schools on March 15th. The website that it’s at is called YouthClimateStrikeUS.org. And if you’re watching, then you can go to that page, and if you want, you can participate and you can use your voice. And so, promoting that idea, that’s going to be pretty much our next step of action.
AMY GOODMAN: And last comment, Magdalena?
MAGDALENA: Well, I think our next step of action—well, for me, my first step of action, I think, before this, is—well, I mean, now, too, but like this is really important to me—is getting people to actually believe there is climate change. 'Cause how are we going to fight for something that some people don't believe in? And yeah, so that’s a big step for me. And I also think, like, recognizing indigenous people and people who, in their backyard, there’s fracking and all that—so, I think that is a big step to how we can fix this crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: Ten-year-old Magdalena and her 12-year-old brother, Rio, youth climate activists who confronted California Senator Dianne Feinstein in her San Francisco office last week.
When we come back, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. Stay with us.