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A grandson and grandmother talk climate action (opinion)


Submitted by Liam Chandler-Isacksen and Susan Chandler

During the last terrible fire season here in northern Nevada, our family looked out for eight full weeks at the apocalypse—thick yellow-gray smoke, air quality indices regularly over 200. We remember the night the AQI climbed to 450 and a day at Pyramid Lake when it was 530.  

Liam Chandler-Isacksen

Here is how we, grandson and grandmother, have been called to action by the climate emergency, and why we need you to help.

Hello, my name is Liam Chandler-Isacksen. I am 15 and a sophomore in high school. For as long as I can remember, I have been told that our earth is being killed, and that we are the ones holding the poison. But, despite all the voices, all the evidence screaming in our faces, there were always those who insisted that it was just another political scheme, fake.  

But to me, and billions of other young people across this dying planet, it is as real as our own sweat and tears. Because, for us, it is our future, it is all we will ever know. Unless we band together and stand up for our future, stand up for what is right. And let me tell you, this is NOT a hoax. This is the fate of millions of species, billions of lives, the fate of us. And, though we do hold the poison, we also hold the antidote. The place is here, people, and the time is NOW!

Hello, I am Susan Chandler. I am 78 and Liam’s grandmother. For the past 50 years I have organized, protested, voted, taught, built organizations and raised money for social justice. I was convinced we could leave the world a better place for Liam and his generation. 

Susan Chandler

Now, the planet itself is in crisis. I despair; I construct apologies. I have discovered, however, that young people are not especially interested in apologies. Action and survival are what is on their minds.

In September, Bill McKibben, the beloved environmentalist and founder of 350.org, announced that after spending most of the pandemic writing, he was ready to return to organizing. Specifically, he was launching Third Act, an organization for people over the age of 60—”experienced Americans” determined to change the world for the better.

“We must muster the political and economic power to move Washington and Wall Street in the name of a fairer, more sustainable society and planet,” McKibben wrote. “We [will] back up the great work of younger people, and…make good trouble of our own.” 

I joined immediately.  

Third Act groups are forming throughout the country, including here in Reno. On Friday, Oct. 29, we’re joining youth-led rallies in a dozen cities to “bug the banks.” As Katie Eder, 19, the executive director of Future Coalition explains: “We’re drawing a bold line….We have to see an end to fossil fuels once and for all….That’s why we’re targeting banks. Banks like Chase continue to finance, loan to, and invest in the fossil fuel industry, allowing it not just to continue, but to grow. This has to end.”

Here in Reno, we’re gathering at Chase Bank, 200 South Virginia, on Friday the 29 from 12 noon to 12:30 p.m.  The time is NOW, people!

Liam Chandler-Isacksen is in the 10th grade at the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology   (AACT) in Reno.

Susan Chandler, MSW, PhD, is Associate Professor of Social Work, Emeritus, at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she has taught for 28 years. 

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