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  • Writer's pictureArielle Kouyoumdjian

Climate Stories from Around The Globe: Featuring Henry König

Henry is a 17-year-old from Fort Collins Colorado. His narrative is vivid and striking, culminating in an impossible-to-forget call to action.

I care about climate change because I love the ecosystems and species that I live with.

--Henry, 17, Fort Collins, CO

Fear of climate change has infected my mind for the vast majority of my life. It has been always present in the back of my mind ever since I first researched it for a class project in fifth grade. Now I am a senior in high school, and not only am I still keenly aware of the foreboding cloud it casts over my future, but I have also begun to experience its first cursory effects firsthand. When I was in my freshman year of high school, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a massive wildfire in my home state of Colorado. The Cameron Peak fire was the largest wildfire in Colorado history, burning over 200,000 acres of land, and displacing over 20,000 people. At night I could see the light from the fire burning rising behind the mountains near my home, and for weeks it would rain ash out of the sky, blotting out the sun entirely and making the mid-afternoon as dark as dusk, while the sun glowed a hateful and horrific red. My hometown of Fort Collins was rated as the worst city in the world in terms of air quality for several days due to the smoke and ash from the fire, and I remember how frightened I was when the evacuation line was only half a mile from my home. This fire would not have occurred if it weren't for the drought we had been suffering for over a decade prior.

Decades-long drought and fires of that scale are not natural occurrences, they are the result of the changes in our climate, and the destructive power I have witnessed firsthand is nothing compared to what will come if we do not act. However, I am not interested in spreading fear or preaching impending doom and gloom. Climate change is easily the largest issue ever faced by humanity, but it is not something that we are fated to suffer. While it is an undeniable truth that climate change is not fully avoidable, and it is a fact that we will have to adapt to and suffer from its consequences, it is not yet fully fated to be our extinction. We do not have the power to stop it, but we do have the ability to buy ourselves decades, if not centuries, to solve this issue. But this is not something that can be done with half-hearted effort and token resistance.

We must fight against climate change as if it were a war of apocalyptic scale because that's what it truly is. We have never faced a threat in the history of humanity as great as climate change, for it threatens to wipe out our entire species. However, if we can band together against it, we will open the path to a golden future for humanity. I urge anyone and everyone reading this to do their utmost to fight against climate change, be it through direct change in your daily habits, or through petitioning your governing bodies to take action.

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