Activist Zanagee Artis grew up near the coast of Connecticut, spending a lot of time near the beach — and his proximity to the vulnerable area is where his journey with climate activism began. The 21-year-old is the co-founder of Zero Hour, a youth-led organization tackling climate justice, policy, storytelling and education.
Like most activists, he started with an interest in the environment, but didn’t have much experience on the policy side of things.
“There is this connotation with young people that they don’t have a lot of knowledge about policy,” Artis tells In The Know. “You don’t need to know all about policy, you just need to know how you’re being impacted.”
And he knows the damaging effects of pollutions first-hand. One of his parents has acute asthma caused by living in an area with a high rate of pollution.
“Wildlife and ecosystems are not the only ones who will be harmed by climate change. People are being harmed by pollution,” Artis said.
With more experience under his belt, as the policy director at Zero Hour, Artis makes calls for Congress to get involved in climate justice.
“My goals are really to put a spotlight on the need for national policy,” he said. “Zero Hour is a global, youth-led climate justice organization. It calls urgency to the problem of climate change specifically for younger generations to inherit the problem of climate change.”
But he believes people stand the best chance of making a change on a local level through rallies, protests and sharing their stories.
“My dreams for this planet are rooted in mutual relationships between humans and the environment. It means living sustainably and not extracting in the past,” Artis said. “Together we can and will achieve a green new deal.”
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