Climate change is one of the most significant issues we are facing today. Plastic, a material that fills our daily lives, is contributing to this crisis. Many people are aware of the numerous negative ways in which plastic is impacting our oceans. But plastics have another hidden threat: climate change. In this way, plastics are a human health crisis and a human rights crisis. Four major petrochemical plant fires occurred in Texas this year. Fires like these have a direct negative human health impact on the vulnerable communities who live in the areas.
How are plastics contributing to the climate crisis? Plastics are made from fossil fuels and contribute to climate change from cradle to grave. Extracting fossil fuels from the earth and transporting them releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The refining and manufacturing process is also full of emissions that contribute to the climate crisis youth are inheriting. Plastic production is predicted to go up, and with it, so will emissions released into our atmosphere and into our planet’s water system. Plastics add to the climate crisis and directly impact human health throughout their existence. We Heirs are always working to connect the dots between issues like plastics and the climate crisis including the impact upon communities most heavily impacted by anthropogenic impacts.
We recognize that one of the most crucial solutions to the climate crisis is educating and empowering all youth. Heirs learn in a project-based way. We are out in the field talking with scientists, leading and participating in workshops, and practicing thinking critically about what we learn. With this knowledge, we can engage in shared learning with other youth, inspire others to learn about impacts on their ocean and waterways, think critically, and work towards real-world solutions for the world we are inheriting.