Alexandra Cousteau and Leah Thomas give an Earth Day talk to encourage environmentalism at Penn State | Way of life

After an unexpected day of snow, environmental activists Alexandra Cousteau and Leah Thomas visited the HUB-Robeson Center for a conference organized by the Penn State Student Programming Association on Monday evening to address current environmental issues and society’s role in solving them. before Earth Day on Friday.

Cousteau is a senior adviser at OCEANA, a non-profit organization that defends marine ecosystems.

Thomas is the founder of the Intersectional Environmentalist organization and the author of “The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet”.

The conference, which drew just a handful of attendees, opened up about what young people can do to help improve the environment.

For people who want to get involved in sustainability efforts but don’t know where to start, Thomas advised starting with “empowerment instead of shame – assess what you’re already doing.”

“The end is not written. We don’t know what will happen by then,” Cousteau said. “We need all our ingenuity. We all created this problem, we can all solve it.

Cousteau said younger generations are important assets to environmentalism efforts.

“Young people have real power and hold older generations accountable,” Cousteau said.

Thomas said it was important to represent minority communities in environmental activism, and that communities’ experiences should be considered when inviting them to work.

“We think about the future and its impact on people in the future, but what is its impact on people in the community right now?” said Thomas.

Cousteau expressed concern about marine and environmental degradation in the near future.

“Change is scary, and change happens,” Cousteau said. “In order for it not to be scary, we have to take control of what is happening.”

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Angela C. Hale