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UMKC student represents younger generation in fight against climate change

In a crowded, suit-and-tie filled room on the 10th floor of City Hall, Madegan Morrison and other young people led the public conversation on climate change.

Morrison, an environmental science major at UMKC, spoke in front of City Council in downtown Kansas City earlier this month in support of Renewable Energy ordinance 109233. She was one of three people who spoke for the public in favor of the ordinance and climate change.

More and more youth are getting involved in the movement combating climate change.

“The climate crisis is one of most threatening issues facing our world right now, so I’m in support of this ordinance, and I look forward to your future action,” said Morrison.

This ordinance set the goal for all of Kansas City’s 350-plus municipal buildings to be run on 100% non-carbon renewable energy sources. Most of that would come from a proposed wind farm that would produce more energy than all of the city’s municipal buildings need combined.

The vice chair of the council and Kansas City mayoral candidate Jolie Justice moved to recommend the ordinance be passed. It was seconded and unanimously voted through to head to the 27th floor, where it was approved.

“Getting into college, I was able to be more exposed to news and issues and to be more informed,” said Morrison. “That inspired me to spend my time on these issues because I felt it was the best use of my time and my skills.”

Recent stories from National Geographic, The Guardian and Yahoo News paint a picture of the younger generation fighting for their lives when it comes to climate change. Since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a warning in its last report saying the world has 12 years to ditch carbon-based energy, there has been an uptick in youth climate action.

Morrison sides with the IPCC report, telling City Council, “We have about 11 years to act to become carbon-neutral.”

From the yellow-vest protesters in France to student protesters walking out of class in more than 1,700 strikes around the world in March, it’s clear the younger generation has picked their battle—climate change. They strongly support the “Green New Deal,” which is also supported by the new, younger and more progressive members of Congress. Others envision a slower, more incremental approach to battling climate change.

But the younger generation doesn’t want to wait for slow results.

So how did Kansas City come up with—and pass—something calling for 100% renewable energy? It turns out it’s not just young people who have thrown a hat into the ring of climate change after all.

Disguised in the mix of suits and ties in City Hall was Jerry Shechter, the sustainability director for Kansas City. Shechter and his team played a big hand in passing the renewable energy ordinance, and he encourages all students to be active in the fight against climate change.

“The younger generation is getting involved in different ways than the older folk like me,” said Shechter. “When I was their age, the issues were civil rights and Vietnam. Now, it’s social equity and climate change.”

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