Daniella was a youth storyteller during the 2019 Youth Climate Convening in Red Wing, part of the Youth Convening Minnesota program.
I am half Costa Rican and half American.
Being born and raised in the Midwest has made me realize the beauty of the outdoors and being outside. I’ve gotten to adventure to bluffs, rivers, and parks, many thanks to the Environmental Learning Community (ELC). I met so many of my good friends through ELC trips; we all formed bonds and made memories while enjoying nature that will last us a lifetime. I want coming generations to be able to experience the beauty of nature that I have had, too. With climate change, I’m worried that they won’t be able to, unless we make some changes.
This year, I was a part of the cross country skiing team, although we might as well have called it the cross country running team. During the season, we ran so much that I was wondering if I would ever really learn how to ski. For part of the season, we had to practice at Welch at 6 a.m. on weekends because they made their own snow.
A few weeks after the end of the season, the snow came. Perfect. Right in time for ultimate frisbee season. It came in enormous amounts. I believe ten days of school were canceled, meaning we only went to school for half of the days we were supposed to in February. It wasn’t until later that I realized my experience matches what the facts are showing us about climate change, that Minnesota’s winters are warming faster than any other state in the nation.
Warmer temperatures allow the atmosphere to hold more moisture, explaining the record breaking amount of snow we got this winter.
I go to visit my family in Costa Rica almost every year, and those trips have brought to my attention that there is way more to the world then just America. We need to care about how this is affecting other people. When I last talked to my grandpa in Costa Rica, I asked him if and how climate change was affecting them over there. He said it absolutely was and went on to explain the phenomenon of El Niño and La Niña.
This is a naturally occurring event, but it has gotten worse and will continue to get worse with climate change. Every few years, the trade winds going west slow down and the warm water being pushed by the winds now stop or go East. This brings warm water to North, Central, and South America, and with it massive floods and storms. This is called El Niño. The warm waters deter fish, and families that rely on the fish they catch go hungry. Eventually, the trade winds pick up again, and sometimes become even stronger than normal.
This is where La Niña comes in. The warm water that was in the east now travels west, and the cool water below rises up to take its place. Now that side of the ocean is colder than usual, so the droughts come. Rivers and streams dry up, and poorer farmers with cattle have to lead their livestock long distances to get water every day.
Hearing these stories from my grandpa has made me see an entirely new set of issues.
It is my understanding that while climate change is a global issue, how it shows up from region to region can differ greatly, and in this case, more severely.
I think about my experience with a warming winter here in Minnesota and the experiences of my relatives in Costa Rica, and how they are just two parts of the same story of climate change.
A few weeks ago in sustainability club, we watched a video of a 15-year-old girl named Greta Thunberg from Sweden who was standing up to political leaders about climate change. She brought up some frightening points about it. Some of these included the mass extinction currently going on and the future relocation of millions of people due to the rising sea levels.
I understand that if we don’t do something about climate change in the next coming years, the damage done to the earth will be permanent and irreversible. I’m worried that our leaders aren’t doing enough to solve this issue, that they cannot see how this will affect all of us.
I imagine a better world, one that begins with seeing us change and stopping the problems that we started in the first place.
I imagine seeing people enjoying nature, with the satisfaction of knowing how hard we have worked to preserve it. I imagine how my conversations with my relatives in Costa Rica would not be about these hardships, but about the victories that have been won. I imagine a world where people would not have to worry about these issues ever again.
I can see that my job, in all of this, is to make my voice be heard, to be an example of positive change, so that other people are inspired to change.
I’m trying to do my part, and I’m asking you to do yours, for the sake of our future.