Patricia Nelson | Greeley, Colorado

Patricia Nelson | Greeley, Colorado

“The fracking industry has been able to blend in and move into the community slowly. But this project is just like, ‘We are going to do this because we can do this now.’ That’s my take on it. The reality of it is that there are so many community members that work in the oil and gas industry, that it makes it hard to speak against the industry to anyone. There are a lot of people that care about this, even though they may not be vocal about it. A lot of people are very fearful of the explosions and disasters that the industry refers to as accidents or anomalies. People are literally dying in their homes because of this industry. I feel that if this lawsuit were to be successful, it would give people a little bit of hope and that would calm some of their fears. An industry should not have as much stronghold as the fracking industry has here in Colorado.”

Jasilyn Charger | Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

Jasilyn Charger | Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

“It doesn’t take an extraordinary person to do extraordinary things. It takes a person willing to make change. A lot of young people are dealt situations that they don’t deserve, but they make something beautiful out of their pain. My grandma used to tell me, ‘the best things come from out of tears of sadness.’ It took me a long time to understand what she meant by that, but when you cry about something and you do something about it, it becomes an amazing thing. Because you were at a point where you thought you couldn’t do it. You went from having that self-doubt to a point where you made something incredible, not only for yourself, but for other people, for your environment, and for the people you talk to.”

Danny Grassrope | Kul Wicasa Oyate (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe)

Danny Grassrope | Kul Wicasa Oyate (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe)

“Not if, but when, the pipeline breaks, it will affect the part of the Missouri River that we live on. My community will be forced to move again, and there will be nowhere to go except a higher place in our indigenous territory. We won’t have the resources that we have now. Our water will no longer be safe for us, so we will have to find a different source. We will have to find emergency housing for our elders, for our youth, for the people that live there. And we will have all our memories torn from us, from our place we call home. As indigenous peoples, we have a history of finding a home and then having that taken from us. And it is very scary. It is a real-life scenario, and it’s scary.”

Vic Barrett | New York

Vic Barrett | New York

“I was 14 or 15 the first time I thought about climate change in Honduras. We were at our house, which is close to the beach, and it’s also where my mom grew up and lived her whole life. She was talking about how when she was younger, they used to have to walk a little bit to get to the beach, and now it’s just right there. I remember being on the beachfront and seeing that the community had put together these sand, rock, walls, and seeing telephone poles that were in the ocean that didn’t used to be there. I remember thinking, these people, my people, don’t necessarily have the resources or access to knowledge to fully understand what this is and how it’s impacting them, but it’s clearly a huge presence in their lives every day. And it’s because of emissions from where I’m from and actions of people around me and my peers. The society that I live in is drowning the society that I’m from.”

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Jaime Butler | Navajo Nation

Jaime Butler | Navajo Nation

“Because of our drought, the sand around Cameron became super dry. Then, because of the winds, nothing was keeping it in one place. So we had a reservoir, and it dried up. Then one day it rained very hard. And I remember back when I was smaller, the rains used to be really nice—smooth and consistent. But this rain was very harsh, and a lot of water came down all of a sudden. And it caused the reservoir to fill up, which is sort of good. But then the next few days after that, it was super dry, so it weirdly resulted in dry sand on the top layer. And the lake was super muddy, almost like tar. And after the rain, wild horses came to this one little puddle. They tried to get to the puddle, and it was all like quicksand, and they didn’t see it because the topsoil blew over it, and they couldn’t get out. It resulted I think in one-hundred-twenty horses found dead in that area.”

Miko Vergun | Beaverton, Oregon

Miko Vergun | Beaverton, Oregon

“The Marshall Islands has been fighting for justice for a long, long time. Before colonialism, the Marshall Islands had a lot of natural resources. The United States did 67 nuclear tests and tested the first hydrogen bomb there. Several of those bombs vaporized islands right off the map. There have been islanders who were unable to return home because of radiation. And now, on top of that, the Marshall Islands is on the front lines of climate change. It is a very narrow, flat, small set of islands. It’s in danger of being one of the first countries to go underwater. There are no mountains or anything. There’s literally nowhere to escape to if there is a flood, or a hurricane. Ocean acidification and the rising sea levels are causing erosion, making the islands significantly smaller. King tides are flooding the land. Ocean acidification is making fishing—a huge part of Marshallese culture—challenging. On top of that, when the waters come rushing in, they wash away cemeteries where our grandparents and other ancestors are buried. Our people are tied to the land and our ancestors are on that land.”

Paul Schurke | Ely, Minnesota

Paul Schurke | Ely, Minnesota

“In the Arctic, the effects of climate change are much more pronounced than in Minnesota because the further north you go, the more advanced the impacts are. There’s a number of reasons why it plays out that way, but it all culminates at the North Pole, which is truly ground zero for climate change. The impacts of climate change at the pole provide data to model the impacts that are likely to be felt further south here in the decade ahead. It’s very much in-your-face visible when you’re in the Arctic.

I worry for my kids and grandkids because I know that the Boundary Waters are destined for dramatic change, and we’ve got to wrap our heads and hearts around that. We have to reconcile the things that can be done to adapt and realign to accommodate that. In the long-term, the heartbreaking element for me is that changes are occurring with sufficient speed such that, as much as I’ve enjoyed my career in Arctic adventure travel and operating a dogsledding operation in the Boundary Waters, I would never encourage my children to follow in my footsteps and do the same. I don’t think this will be a viable career a decade or two from now, or maybe even sooner.”