18-year-old activist leads charge against climate 'apocalypse'

"We have this real opportunity to do the work that our ancestors have been trying to do forever." Eighteen-year-old activist Isha Clarke is rebuilding an equitable, sustainable planet to prevent a possible climate "apocalypse." Here's how:

Video Transcript


ISHA CLARKE: We have been ignoring climate change for over 50 years. And now we're all in a point where no one can ignore it because it's impacting every single person. Everyone has been watching the natural disasters on TV. The climate crisis is the physical manifestation of all of the systems of oppression which are the foundation of our society.

This belief and practice that people are disposable and that people can be exploited for the benefit of one group of people, that is what white supremacy is. That is what colonialism is. That's what capitalism is. That's what patriarchy is. That's what ableism is. All of these systems are about devaluing human life. We will no longer live in a world with white supremacy.

Youth vs Apocalypse is a climate justice organization that is based in the Bay that is run by frontline youth, you know, with some adult support. At the very core of our work is restoring humanity and simply claiming that no one is disposable, that all are worthy, and that we should be able to live in a world where everyone can thrive.


- Stop denying our planet is dying.

ISHA CLARKE: Social justice is a really core value in my family. One of my earliest memories is probably listening to my grandpa tell me stories of his activism, going down South when he was in college to be a part of the Civil Rights Movement. I think that he was one of my earliest influences. That really became a part of who I am very early on.

The moment that really brought me to this climate justice movement was when I was a freshman in high school. I was invited to this action targeting Phil Tagami, who is a very prominent developer in Oakland who is trying to build a coal terminal in West Oakland, a community that is mostly Black working class people and has been that for decades.

This fight isn't about saving the rainforests and the polar bears. It's about people. And it's about people in my community, people who I love getting years taken off of their lives because of this practice of racism and economic exploitation.

- [INAUDIBLE] Please don't let our planet die.

ISHA CLARKE: In that moment, I recognized the power of speaking truth to power with that very same group of young people of all color from Oakland through Youth vs Apocalypse. It's about completely reimagining the way that we live in this world, moving away from this idea that people are disposable. And in order to do that, we have to dismantle the things that are keeping us from that, the things that are keeping us all conditioned in this society to hurt each other, to exploit each other. And so we started organizing climate strikes.

- I believe that we will win. I believe that we will win.

ISHA CLARKE: In action, allyship looks like supporting the leadership of people who are on the front lines, people who are experiencing these systems that are quite literally causing the destruction of our planet. We can and will win. And we have been able to create such a beautiful movement. And this is only the beginning.