Youth Climate Reality Leader Dylan Shea Is Stepping Up to Fight for A Healthy Climate
One young climate leader has discovered that to change minds, it’s important to make the climate crisis personal.
Dylan Shea, a 15-year-old from the Los Angeles area, was massively inspired at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Las Vegas in June. It helped him make sense of the climate crisis in a consolidated, communicable way, and sparked his passion in advocating for a shift to renewable energy. Now, as he enters his sophomore year, Dylan’s mission is to teach his peers and younger classmates about the realities of climate change — even when faced with community members who willfully ignore its existence.
“When I found out about the training through my mom, I immediately said yes,” Dylan said. “Climate change is one of the things my generation is going to have to deal with. I knew I needed to learn more about it.”
When Dylan first stepped off the plane in Las Vegas to attend the training, the first thing he noticed was that it was hot. A record-breaking 109 degrees Fahrenheit hot. Vice President Al Gore spoke about the record heat waves in his presentation on day one of the training.
“The first part of Al Gore’s presentation was so intense. It was all about how serious the crisis is, and how we need to act now. I didn’t know the severity of it. Honestly, I was scared,” Dylan told Climate Reality. “And then he showed us the second half of his slideshow, about how we already have all the materials we need to solve the crisis, we just need to do the right things with them. It felt so empowering. And I calmed down and thought, ‘we can do this.’”
Then, Vice President Gore gave his presentation again, condensed from two hours down to ten minutes, known as the “Truth in 10” presentation. Dylan had the idea to give a similar short presentation at his former middle school, and on day two of the training, he joined a small group training to learn to make his own slideshow.
“My mind was completely blown,” Dylan said.
At the training, Dylan sat at the youth table with other high school students. While he was incredibly excited to be surrounded by other young people with an interest in climate activism, he couldn’t help but notice — he was the only young man at the table.
“I thought more guys were going to show up, it was surprising to see no other males my age,” Dylan said. “I feel more responsibility to spread this stuff to my audience— which are my guy friends.”
However, Dylan has hit some road bumps discussing sustainability and climate change with his peers.
“From a male point of view, I feel like we’re more closed off to ideas like this. And to understand climate change, you have to be open-minded. I talk to the guys on the varsity basketball team, and not everyone is open minded about it,” Dylan said.
The best way to start a conversation with someone who doesn’t seem to care about climate change, Dylan has found, is to get personal.
“I mix in the things we’re dealing with — like, how hot the gym is. That’s because of the heat in LA. And our school is right next to the LA River. There’s no water in it because of the drought. It’s completely empty, which is terrifying. I try to be like ‘that’s crazy, there’s no water, this drought is serious.’”
Dylan is grateful that his parents have taught him about climate change from an early age, and recognizes that not everyone around him has that privilege — but he’s determined to get through to them. He wants to educate everyone at his high school, especially across all socioeconomic statuses.
“Some of my friends worry more than others about the cost of turning on their AC,” Dylan said. “I’m trying to spread the message that climate change is real, and there’s things we can do so we can all live comfortably.”
Dylan has begun bringing reusable water bottles to his teammates in an effort to reduce the team’s plastic use. Eventually, he wants his high school completely plastic-free. He’s excited to branch into the climate activism space, and hopefully bring more young men like him into it. The friends he made at the training inspired him, and he was grateful for the chance to talk about climate change with passionate people his age.
“At high school, sometimes I feel like the only one who cares. Then I see all these young people at the training from all over the west coast, and we can talk about the major drought in California together, we can talk about what it’s like to grow up like this,” Dylan said. “My generation, we’re going to have to deal with a lot, living on this Earth. And we’re in this together. We can’t let it get any worse.”
Are you a young person like Dylan who is ready to join the climate fight? Follow @InconvenientYouth for the latest ways you can join the fight for a better tomorrow.