BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – At age 12, a local boy is a prominent member of a growing number of young people from around the world leading the charge for climate activism.
Satellite Beach resident Levi Draheim made an appearance this week in Washington, D.C. along with several other young activists, including, 16-year-old climate Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who's credited with inspiring international demonstrations after leading protests in Europe, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
He and the other activists appeared before U.S. House of Representatives and held a demonstration on the steps of the US Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Draheim is one of 21 young people suing the federal government. He and the other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in 2015 claiming Washington has violated their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by permitting and sometimes subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.
He's also one of eight young Florida plaintiffs in a similar 2018 case filed against the state, Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and several agencies. The lawsuit aims to force the state to keep an inventory of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions and come up with a plan to phase out fossil fuel consumption.
Though young, Draheim says he's been involved in climate activism for quite some time. At age 4, he was involved in beach cleanups and growing a vegetable garden. His mother told him more about climate change when he was seven; later someone at his Unitarian Universalist church told him about the lawsuit against the federal government. He and his mother decided he should join the suit as a plaintiff.
Draheim answered a question at a press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court Wednesday about how Hurricane Dorian impacted his family. He replied that the storm "terrified" him and his family and caused them stress. As climate scientists expect climate change to intensify hurricanes in the future, Draheim worries for his family's home in Satellite Beach.
"It's terrifying, not knowing whether I'm going to have a home or a future on this barrier island that I live on."
Draheim credits his mother for encouraging him to get involved in climate activism. More adults should take the same approach, he said, adding that adults don't have a right to tell children they can't join the fight against climate change.
"It's like saying to someone, 'I'm going to kill you, but you can't fight back.'"
Other youths are also participating in climate activism at a local level — Julia Cook, a Brevard County student, has organized a march at 6 p.m. Friday on the Eau Gallie Causeway. That event joins an international Youth Climate Strike organized by Greta Thunberg in support of the Green New Deal ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit.