Advocating Through Print Media as Youth
Meet Liana Steinberg, a “very fired up and passionate” CCL volunteer and youth advocate making change through writing letters to the editor (LTEs). She is one of many young people who have taken to print media to spread their voices about climate change in a field where adult voices on the subject dominate.
A Peek Into the Life of A Youth Climate Change Advocate
Liana Steinberg, a 21 year-old college student, is taking a semester off of school this year to spend much of her free time focusing on climate advocacy, mainly by sending LTEs to a local newspaper known as the San Diego Union Tribune. Her first LTEs were submitted in May. Liana stated that she hadn’t felt “very fired up and passionate” about her LTEs until July, when she had gained more experience. The turning point in her work was when she wrote a strongly-worded letter about California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plans regarding climate change in September 2020. In the letter, published on 9/24/20, she discussed his plans to have California completely shift from gas powered vehicles to electric cars by 2025, whilst signing fossil fuel permits. Liana dove more into the topic, sharing her opinions and concerns. She stated that both acts were completely contradicting one another as the use of electric vehicles would reduce carbon footprints, though the use of fossil fuels would increase them.
Writing LTEs allows youth to express their own, unique perspectives on different climate crises. During our interview, Liana illustrated that “A lot of the times when you are doing climate work and doing smaller tasks, it doesn’t always… feel like you are making an impact or making progress. And that was one of the moments where it was like being part of this is really doing something”. By writing LTEs, you are able to share your thoughts and create change on a global level by communicating your own ideas to others. Liana further emphasized that “Even if it’s just a few people reading it, it’s in the newspaper, and it’s available for people to read—even if it doesn’t necessarily change their minds or anything… It’s just the idea of communicating this idea to people and getting them to think about something that you are really passionate about it… and I think that was one of those moments where it was like… damn I’m really doing something”.
Communicating with Older Generations
Writing LTEs is a great way for youth to get more involved in climate activism and voice their opinion on different matters. Liana mentioned that “It’s great for people my age to have their voices heard through social media, but you’re really reaching a different audience—an older audience” through these letters. Writing LTEs allows the writer to target their opinions to a group who aren’t as exposed to youth climate advocacy. Moreover, this provides the youth a gateway to spread the word of climate change to older generations.
Using Your Voice
Liana believes that, as a youth writing LTEs, she can provide insight to older generations on Gen Z’s outlooks concerning different climate issues. She hopes that by doing so, legislators will hear the voices of the younger generation and be pressured to take further climate action.
Introducing A Unique Perspective
Liana hoped that through LTEs she can introduce readers to a different perspective on various issues that will challenge the reader’s views. She includes calls to action in her letters to create an impact on more than just an individual level, but rather a “social level”. According to Liana, the significance of writing LTEs is to spread the word of climate change in order to spark new conversations among people from all over the United States and motivate individuals to take action.
Liana works with peers within her chapter, often discussing specific climate crises or topics before drafting her letters. Once she and her peers have drafted their letters, they get together to comment on and edit one another’s letters. Since joining the Youth Climate Action team, Liana has written around eight letters, and two of those eight have been published—with one of them regarding climate change. Liana promotes and inspires others to write letters to the editor by personally emailing them to peers and by sharing her letters on social media, following the guidelines provided by CCL. Liana strongly encourages youth interested in climate advocacy to join local LTE teams to amplify the voices of the younger generation.
The global pandemic has made it difficult for youth to get involved with climate activism due to quarantine restrictions. Given these circumstances, writing LTEs is a powerful way for youth climate advocates to inspire climate action from home.
Dana Sanei is a high school senior at Monta Vista High School in the Bay Area, California and is an active member of CCL’s Youth Blog Writing Team and LTE Action Team.