St. Mark’s seventh grader Sam Posten addressed the Dallas City Council Feb. 12 about a passion point: climate change. Backed by members of the Sunrise Movement, he was inspiring and eloquent. (Check out the video of his speech here. Skip to the final session of the meeting “Open Microphone Sessions, part four of four,” and watch the last 11 minutes.) Sunrise is a national, youth-led movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. Here’s an interview with Posten, 13:

When did you get interested in climate change? Climate change has always been one of my worries, and I have always thought about it, but I became invested in it last summer. That was when I attended a STEM communications camp on the subject of climate change. It taught me more about the causes and effects of climate change, which then allowed me to speak more insightfully and passionately about the need to more aggressively try to reverse its effects.
Why is the topic important to you? I am most worried about climate change because of how real, but also preventable it is. If we can invest more in renewable energy sources, we can actually nullify and negate its scary effects. It is also especially urgent because I know that I and my generation will almost certainly have to endure its effects unless we do something now.

How did you get involved in the Sunrise Movement? I was introduced to the Sunrise Movement by Aaryaman Singhal when my mom and I were volunteers. A few months after we volunteered and saw the unclean and dirty areas along the banks of the Trinity River, he contacted us and asked if I would be willing to speak to the Dallas City Council about my concerns on climate change. I very quickly obliged and attended the next Sunrise Movement meeting, where I realized how important this group really is.

Why is it important to you? It is filled with honest people who truly would like to make the world a better place. I also think that their approach to getting young people to be activists is extremely important because we can understand and empathize with the urgency of how we must act now.

What was it like to speak to the Dallas City Council? Oddly enough, I didn’t feel nervous at all, but I still felt like I was being heard and was making a difference. All the Council members were extremely kind and listened to my speech. It was also very interesting to see how the council meetings worked and how every citizen can have a voice. It was a very important, yet enjoyable experience, and I urge other young people to speak up as well so that we can fix all these problems together.

What did you say? In my speech, I urged the City Council to be more aggressive in its draft climate action plan (also known as the CECAP), envisioning a world where we push to prevent climate change and one where we don’t. I essentially gave the Council my perspective on the issue and my vision of the world I want to grow up in. I also gave two specific suggestions. The first is that the city should move immediately toward using electric buses and garbage trucks because they disproportionately contribute to vehicle emissions in North Texas. The second is that City buildings should start now to have solar panels since we are now at the point where this is actually cost-effective.

What are your next steps? I plan to give more speeches and brainstorm new solutions to climate change, and I hope we can push more into renewable energy sources.

What are your favorite topics at school? Math. I enjoy working with numbers.
What are your extracurricular activities? I play the cello, do debate and public speaking, play soccer, and I enjoy running and riding my bike through Preston Hollow.

For additional information, visit SunriseDallas.org, follow the page Sunrise Movement Dallas on Facebook, @sunrisemovementdallas on Instagram, and/or @dallas_sunrise on Twitter.


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