By Stella Ruby Hughes, Age 14, Hamtramck High School

Climate change has been a part of my reality for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember I have been worried about climate change. So many other beings rely on this Earth to survive, and each one of them will suffer if we don’t change our ways. Though I know this and accept it, I don’t like to think about it often. I have found it is extremely easy to fixate on the disaster that climate change can bring and be furious that there are no big changes being made in the law to help slow the problem. This fixation can take over your life and make everything seem tiresome.

In about 6th grade, I fell into a constant state of anger over climate change. I desperately wanted something to be done but had no idea what to do and felt hopeless. I missed enjoying the wonderful summer of my childhood because I was so focused on my own frustration. 

Even though I am able to fully appreciate my life now, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel anxiety when discussing climate change. Each time the issue is brought up, I am slowly filled with dread. I know that in order to fix the problem I have to face it, but I want to focus on savoring my youth and education before I try to tackle climate change at a more impactful level. 

Many times before I have heard adults say, “Young people are our hope,” when it comes to climate change. At first, I felt almost honored to hear them say this. I thought that it meant we were special, but now it mostly feels like a burden.

We weren’t chosen to fight climate change. We are simply the next and last generation that will have to combat it before it gets to a point of no return. I love and respect our planet, but I also have my own dreams. I want to go to college and learn languages and then travel around the world. I want to live my life like all the generations before us, with no worries about the health of the Earth. I know that is selfish and pointless to hope for, but I can’t help it.

What scares me the most about climate change is knowing that the next generation will have to deal with the real consequences if not enough of us step up. I immediately think of the neighbor kids, who I used to watch over and play with in summer. I think of my baby cousins in California who unknowingly experience a big effect of climate change each year: forest fires. The smoke forces them to stay inside and tints their sky with a rusty brown.

We cannot allow the next generation to suffer just because we wish to live care free.

Planet Detroit partnered with the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition and teachers across Michigan to recruit these youth voices on how climate change affects kids’ lives. Here are their stories.

By: Stella Ruby Hughes, 9th Grade

Teacher: Bill Albrecht, Hamtramck High School, Hamtramck

Subject: Climate Change

Theme: Climate Change Resilience and Action

Type: Written Reflection