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Youth Saving the Planet, a Forum Monday at Guild Hall

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 21:02

Record-shattering heat from Alaska to Europe has generated headlines this summer, and glaciers from North America to the Himalayas are melting even faster than previously thought. Time is short, scientists warn, to prevent cataclysmic changes in the climate, but denial remains firm in Washington, D.C., and other centers of power around the globe.

One possible solution will be explored in “The Youth Climate Movement Could Save the Planet,” the first in the 2019 Hamptons Institute series of topical panel discussions, on Monday at 7 p.m. at Guild Hall in East Hampton.

Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, will join Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, Alexandria Villasenor, a co-founder of U.S. Youth Climate Strike and founder of Earth Uprising, and Jerome Foster II, a student activist and founder of the environmental blog The Climate Reporter, on Monday’s panel.

Jessy Tolkan, executive director of Purpose Labs, which builds and supports “movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world,” according to its website, will serve as moderator.

The discussion is intended to address the latest science and focus on the youth around the world who are taking action to address climate change. Much of that action was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden who began a weekly strike from school in order to protest climate inaction. She has become something of an international celebrity, traveling by train to attend international conferences and scolding those who had arrived and would depart in private jets.

On Monday, Ms. Thunberg announced that she would travel to New York aboard a racing yacht that is outfitted with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate electricity, in order to attend the U.N. Climate Action Summit in September, the Santiago Climate Change Conference in December, and other events.

Last week, Ms. Thunberg and the 1975, a British rock ’n’ roll band, released a recording called “The 1975,” in which she recites an essay. “We must admit that we are losing this battle,” she says in it. “We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed. But Homo sapiens have not yet failed.”

“Greta is going to be there in spirit,” Mr. Raacke said of Monday’s discussion. Of those who will attend in material form, Mr. Mann “is probably one of just a handful of top-notch climate scientists here in the U.S.,” he said. “He is a very knowledgeable climate scientist, but also very outspoken, and doesn’t mince words.”

Mr. Raacke likened Ms. Villasenor to “the Greta Thunberg of the U.S.A.,” a 14-year-old New Yorker who skips school on Fridays to protest inaction on climate in front of the United Nations headquarters.

Mr. Foster attends Washington Leadership Academy, a public charter school. He started a virtual reality company and works with the Smithsonian Institution and the Climate Reality Project.

Tickets for “The Youth Climate Movement Could Save the Planet” are $25, $35, and $55, or $23, $33, and $50 for members of Guild Hall. They are available at the box office, by calling 631-324-4050 or 866-811-4111, or at theatermania.com. Special tickets, at $500, include premium seating and a post-discussion reception with the panelists. Free student rush tickets, if the event is not sold out, will be available on Monday at the box office.

The series will continue on Aug. 12 with “Latino Immigration Issues on the East End and Beyond” and “The Future of Leadership” on Aug. 19.