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A Climate Change with Matt Matern Climate Podcast


124: Elise Joshi, Executive Director Gen-Z for Change

Guest Name(s): Elise Joshi

Listen in as Matt speaks with passionate environmental youth activist Elise Joshi. Elise is a 21-year-old Climate Activist and Executive Director at Gen-Z for Change. Her story of fighting climate change is truly inspiring! She recently made the news for boldly disrupting the US Press Secretary while visiting the White House to advocate for action on climate initiatives. Tune in to hear why she has over 150,000 followers on TikTok.

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Gen-Z for Change executive director Elise Joshi explains why the time is now for real answers from the Biden administration on climate policy…
124: Elise Joshi, Gen-Z Climate Activist

ACC #124 – Elise Joshi – A Climate Change with Matt Matern

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host, and I’ve got Elise Joshi on the program. Lisa is the executive director of Gen-Z for Change. Elise just was very prominently featured on the news because she was in the White House and interrupted a press conference, they’re advocating for stopping the oil, oil leases from being sold to various oil companies and expanding drilling in Alaska as well as other places across the US. And it’s taken a stand for change.

And that that video kind of went viral and has been viewed by millions or 10s of millions of people across the world. And I thought it was an amazingly bold statement and took a lot of courage to stand up there and, and speak your mind. In front of, you know, powerful people. I thought it was very well done. And I kudos to you Elise for jumping up and having the courage to say what millions of others would like to say. So, welcome to the program. Thanks for being here.

Thank you so much for having me in the kind words.

So tell us a little bit about your journey. And what brought you to the place you are in the environmental movement. Tell us maybe what your, you know, experience were going back to as a, as a kid in nature, what were what were some of those experiences that you had in nature that were, you know, formed you as a person and felt like, hey, I want to protect this.

Wow. Um, so yeah, I grew up in the Bay Area, I’m from the South Bay, and I’ve never left, I went to college at Berkeley, and I, now that I’ve graduated, I’m still living out here. So it appears that I’ll never leave. And Bear is just beautiful. I feel very lucky to have grown up in a place that has access to nature. And I can go out in the trails in a couple of miles. And, you know, now I feel like I’m taking advantage of it more than I did when I was a kid, actually, you know, I I don’t own a car, and I bike and Bart everywhere I go. And luckily, I’m a couple miles away from the trails if I want to go on a trail run.

But honestly, growing up it was it was I had a strong belief that I didn’t have much impact. And even though I cared about the climate crisis, and I read up about it, I I leaned towards stem because I didn’t believe that political advocacy was actually a, a tool that I could leverage, especially since a lot of people don’t look like me in politics, especially when I was a lot younger, and we didn’t have people like AOC. And yeah, it really took until the COVID crisis. In 2020. Before I I developed a belief that that my voice mattered to

So then, what did you start to do when you when you felt Hey, I this may be something that you would like to advocate for, in a political way?

Yeah, so during COVID, I really took the opportunity to read a lot. And it’s, I think it was three to five books a week, during the height of the COVID pandemic. And I realized, in educating myself on the stats and projections of the climate crisis and educating myself on the Trump presidency and what he was doing to rollback so many environmental protections, it wasn’t enough and I couldn’t safely talk to you know, my peers in person because of the state of the world.

And so I turned to where a lot of Gen-Zers were, were using as well and that was TikTok. I realized that this was a place that a lot of people are on in this moment. And I could talk to other young people about the climate crisis, the the tie to voting since you know, the 2020 election was coming up. And I started posting these documents that I made these color coded documents on the stats and projections of the climate crisis and the Trump presidency and all he’s done to not keep his promises to fail the American public and I posted them online and they did really well and I just started using TikTok more and more as I went into college, realizing that this was a tool that I could use to make a difference.

Well, that’s, that’s great. I mean, just kind of trying to find some way to communicate. I ran for President against Trump. Been in the Republican primaries in 2020. Because I was disgusted by his stance on environmental issues and felt that we need to make a change as a country and, and that he was a failure as a leader, in particular, on the environmental issues, but on so many other issues, but the environmental issues being so important that we don’t get a second chance. We’ve got one planet and if we ruin it, there’s no planet B. So tell us then kind of next steps of your journey and and where do you went from there?

Absolutely. So luckily, I met these amazing other creators on TikTok as well, who were using their platforms to intersect voting with a number of other issues that they were personally passionate about whether it was also climate or racial justice, LGBTQ plus protections, reproductive rights, and these other Gen Z creators ended up forming what was called tick tock for Biden, it was a coalition of over 500 content creators with a collective following of over half a billion people, using their platforms to talk about the importance of voting as it related to a number of different issues.

And so I, this was really my start of organizing and connecting and collaborating with other like minded young people. And from there after the election, it formed into urgency for change. And, you know, a year after that, I became Executive Director. And so now I lead this group that does much more than electoral politics, takes, takes action online supports labor unions, and climate efforts and more on the ground and also holds the Biden administration accountable, despite being called tick tock for Biden, once before, and that’s my day to day job. I can’t believe it’s my job now.

Well, that’s, that’s fantastic. I really like that you’re kind of living your dreams out loud. And so tell us a little bit more about Gen-Z for Change? How many people work at the organization, kind of what are the what makes it tick?

Yeah, so Gen-Z for Change is still a baby organization. I mean, we started just two years ago as an official 501 C four. And we have about 12 to 14 people on our full time staff were like hiring now. So I don’t have exact numbers. And we it’s a dedicated group, at its core that are in passionate about a number of different issues. But we have a large creator network of hundreds of creators that want to make content making a difference.

Even if they don’t have a political page, they might be passionate about sustainability. Or they may be passionate about labor, and they want to engage in our campaigns. But at the core of what Gen-Z for Change is, is it’s a group of organizers that use digital tools, digital strategies coalition’s of creators to make effective change on the ground. And what’s ultimately the goal is the impact, not the views that the videos get. It’s about tangibly seeing, how are the views making a difference in the real world, towards the movements that we support?

So how do you measure that? How do you how do you measure the impact? What are your What are your tools? What are your metrics for determining whether you’re moving the needle?

Yeah, it’s that’s the most important part. So Gen-Z for Change has amazing coders on our team that are able to develop tools that young people can use through watching our videos online. So, for example, when it comes to supporting unionization efforts with striking workers, so 40,000 workers at Kroger’s and Southern California were going on strike for better wages and benefits and more, and they were hiring temporary hires in order to water down the strike the Kroger’s was and what one of our amazing coders did was develop a code that allows people to send an automatic false application to these temporary applications in Kroger’s and allowed people to flood those application portals very easily. And take take them down.

And so ultimately 40,000 Plus false applications were sent through our social media advocacy and all temporary applications were taken down. And so it’s one example of just we can track those metrics, we can track the impact and, you know, striking workers are benefiting as a result.

Well, that’s fantastic. Yeah, I think I’m a labor and employment attorney. And we represent lots of employees across the state of California and we’re always advocating for change and workers rights and getting paid properly and fighting against discrimination. And sometimes we’re doing it one worker at a time and sometimes we’re doing For a whole class of 1000s, or even 10s, of 1000s. So that’s how we measure our impact, though I like the what you guys are doing on the ground of fighting for it in different ways. So tell us, what are you? How are you doing that? For the climate? What are what are the things that you do to to measure your impact on the climate crisis?

Yeah, so one example of our work that was in coalition with hundreds of other climate creators and just regular people wanting to make a difference was with the stop Willow movement that we saw earlier this year. In March 2023, the Biden Administration approved the willow project and $8 billion oil drilling project in the North Slope of Alaska. But back in February, I made the first video on tick tock, urging people to write to the administration in the month that we had urging them not to approve the project.

And from that first video, I had no idea that it would go completely viral, and it became a campaign that no one could have anticipated. And ultimately, 1.1 million people wrote to the administration, urging them not to approve the willow project, and over 5 million petition signatures were signed. And if you add up the three tick tock hashtags, it got 1.1 billion views. Ultimately, and so ultimately, like this, this took over the internet, and even though the Biden administration’s approve the project it a lot of young people were educated on what the project was why new oil drilling projects, and new fossil fuel infrastructure is not important, or necessary in this moment, and actually damages our future.

And, you know, we can use that momentum from Willow to continue to stop a fight, but also continue to fight against new fossil fuel infrastructure. So that’s one example of campaign that we’ve done.

Well, you’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host and I’ve got Elise Joshi on the program. She’s the Executive Director for Gen-Z for Change. We’ll be right back in just one minute with Elise to talk about her encounters with a couple presidents the United States.

You’re listening to A Climate Change, and this is Matt Matern, your host, and I’m back with Elise Joshi, Executive Director of Gen-Z for Change. At least before the break, we were talking about the stop will campaign campaign where you got 1.1 million people to write into the White House as well as five minutes million signatures and 1,000,000,001 point 1 billion views on YouTube regarding this and, you know, I think that’s a win for activating people to start taking action and whether or not it stopped this particular project. At this point. I think it may stop it later. So I’m kind of of the opinion that we don’t give up and you take the first step, and that war is not over in terms of staffing. Willow likes a lot of steps, whether it’s litigation or changing the law, and in a more favorable way going forward. So the fact that the fossil fuel industry got that one win is not going to necessarily mean that they win at the end of the day. So I appreciate you, you activating all those people that come out against it, and essentially hold Joe Biden, President Biden accountable for the promises that he made, and that he was against this drawing. What’s What are your thoughts on that?

Yeah. First of all, it was a 1.1 billion views on TikTok if you add the three, three hashtags, but I totally agree with you. I think the fossil fuel industry and the administration are starting to really take notice of Gen Z’s involvement. The fact that, you know, millions of people in a time where there’s just so many issues happening all around the world, we have news that our fingertips, and yet all of us were so committed and involved in the campaign about an oil drilling project in the remote area of Alaska, like that’s, that’s pretty impressive. And I didn’t expect that myself, nor did any of the creators that were a part of this campaign. So it was it was really inspiring, and I tried to remind myself that it’s not just about the battle, it’s about the war. And you know, I think we just geared up a lot of young people to be ready to continue fighting.

So what’s So what’s the next thing on your, your, your horizon in terms of projects that you’re trying to work on in the environmental movement, either to stop something or to start something or make an impact.

I hopefully have a bit of both, you know, I think that we do too much. Right now there’s a lot of conversation on stopping things about stopping fossil fuel projects, stopping Willow, etc. And I also want to be sure that we educate people on what the just transition looks like. So right now, I’m trying to help UAW their contract with GM Ford and sta Lantus is coming up on September 14, and UAW workers are demanding address transition into the Eevee economy.

And so it’s this is a first example of what a just transition can look like in the real world and actuality. And it is up to the climate movement to stand in solidarity with these workers and to support their effort to have good union jobs in the Evie economy, and not to just have those facilities shut down and, you know, move to states that are right to work states that make it harder to unionize. So that’s really one of my first projects, but I definitely am strategizing other fossil fuel related campaigns that I can help out with as well.

Well, that that is such a big thing is that there been many arguments against the kind of sustainable transition away from fossil fuels saying, oh, okay, that’s going to shake up the economy too much. And they’ll there won’t be jobs and the economy will go in a tailspin, and we can’t do this. And clearly, that hasn’t been the case. Thus far, there’s been a tremendous amount of movement towards a more renewable fuel source.

And, and yet, we have the lowest unemployment rate in a generation or in, you know, 50 years or something. So, obviously, we can do both at the same time. It’s just a matter of putting, putting that as a priority, which I’m glad that you’re doing work to make sure that workers are taken care of in this transition. So where do you Where are you going next in terms of are you going to be supporting Biden in 2024?

Well, I think it’s safe to say that my vote is open. And it’s and that young people deserve to have their vote earned as any person deserves to have their vote earns, you know, this, this generation is largely disappointed in what Biden is doing on climate, of course, we’re supportive of $369 billion for climate, that is no joke. But at the same time, Joe Biden has indicated that this is the first step. And so I’m really excited to see what step two is. And step three, because in four years, I anticipate to have more than one step done before the next election.

And so yeah, of course, I don’t want to see, you know, Republicans take over the presidency and the house, just because of, you know, we know what Republicans do for the environment already. But at the same time, if we only have two options, it’s important that our best option is the the best option possible. And the one that, you know, really is a champion for climate. So it’s not about being the better of two evils. It’s about having a candidate that aligns with science. And right now, our president is not aligning with science and his continuous approval of fossil fuels.

Well, I guess I need to ask you in terms of, you know, the Trump risk, is it worth getting one fossil fuel? You know, say the Alaska the willow project approved if it meant that Trump was not elected? You know, is there some compromise on principles obviously, sometimes, in politics, one has to compromise a bit. And those of us who are environmentalists would probably prefer not to compromise on something like that. But maybe there’s some times where compromise is necessary to avoid a disaster situation like Trump.

Well, I would like to remind everyone that it wasn’t environmentalists that advocated to stop the willow project. 5 million people petitioned for him not to do it. A million people wrote to the White House, it spanned beyond environmentalist. And the movement became young people and an intergenerational coalition of people that just care about a sustainable future that care about a future for their children for for themselves at this point, we’re all experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis.

And it doesn’t matter if you are a tree hugging hippie or not. And even though I would identify myself as, as such, you know, not everyone involved with that campaign was they just cared a lot about their future. And the administration really should think to themselves, if youth support for Biden’s climate and environmental policy dropped to 13%, after the willow projects approval, he’s ought to think about next year’s campaign the same way that we do.

If he does not want the Trump administration to take over once again, he’s ought to do more for climate and oil and align with science. And, you know, I don’t think that’s too hard of an ask, it’s a very popular ask among people across the aisle and not just environmentalists.

Well, if you and your peers succeed, what will be the visible positive results in your lifetime? And if you fail, what would happen to our planet?

Well, I am a serial optimist. So I don’t, I don’t want to fail. And I don’t think there’s one win or one failing moment. This is a, this is a grind till I die. And I’m very aware of that. And, you know, I would see a win as building a future that works for everyone. And right now, our country just doesn’t work for everyone. And, you know, right now, it’s about creating a circular economy that doesn’t revolve around waste, and overconsumption and overproduction. It’s about creating an economy that relies and, and values the everyday worker, and values them in the decision making process process in their workplace.

So good paying good benefits, union jobs being you know, a core part of the American economy, again, as it once was. This is about, you know, universal single payer health care. So that, you know, American families are not constantly going into debt because they can’t pay their medical bills. This is about you know, climate resiliency and making sure that people who experience climate disaster like so many families are in Maui that they have the funds to rebuild and have sovereignty over the land that, you know, was once colonized and is colonized.

You know, this is it’s an intersectional movement that revolves around health justice, gender, justice, racial justice, economic justice. And I know that seems like a very ambitious, hard accomplishment. But it’s really the only way that we get out of this crisis. And it’s the only way that that the solutions to getting out of this crisis will be popular to everyone because it benefits everyone.

Well, I certainly can get on board with a lot of what you’re saying is certainly a more circular economy would be a great move in a positive direction with less waste, less plastic waste, less waste, and that results in, in carbon in our atmosphere and methane in our atmosphere. So what does failure look like if we’re not able to accomplish these goals?

I believe that we’re gonna get to net zero. And I believe that it’s intentional that we’re saying net zero right now, instead of ending fossil fuel dependency, because in the fossil fuel industries, eyes, net zero means technologically maneuvering our way to, to less carbon emissions. They imagine, you know, direct air capture and, you know, other geo-engineering type solutions in order to reduce emissions and allow them to continue as business as usual. So we have the opportunity to not just eliminate carbon emissions, but have everything operate the same way but instead, create a world that works for us and not the fossil fuel industry that profits 100 plus billion dollars every year.

Well, amen. to that. You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host, and I’m talking to Elise Joshi, who’s the executive director for Gen-Z for Change. I’ll be right back with Elise to ask her some follow up questions to these many interesting areas that we’re talking about here. So stay tuned.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, and I’ve got Elise Joshi on the program today. Elise kind of wanted to circle back to something that you had mentioned earlier, which was the indigenous groups. And certainly that there have been a lot of people talking about how we could I certainly benefit from following a lot of their practices as a society because those groups did not create as much waste and they live more sustainably.

And how could we turn our society which is so consumeristic? And into something that looks a little bit more like the indigenous values of looking far out in the future, like a seven generations out? How is how are our actions going to look? What are your thoughts on that front it and doing it in a way? That’s kind of practical? Because I think many people out there would think, well, that’s just not practical. We can’t go back to living in tents and things like that?

Well, I think it starts off by reframing our mindset on how we see ourselves as humans in the context of our ecosystem, that it’s a common indigenous philosophy that we, we bear the burdens of our ancestors and the the problems that we created hundreds of years ago, we feel in our bodies today. And the problems that we create today, our answer our future generations will feel and that’s all a part of us, you know, throughout time throughout space, and that allows us to, you know, not feel like we have ownership over the land, but rather that we depend on the land and that we must take care of it if we want our own survival to happen.

And then, you know, in addition, in addition to our our own philosophy and mindset that we need to decolonize we need to understand what to advocate for, you know, right now, as we’re speaking 1000s of families and people in Maui are traumatized over the worst wildfire that we’ve seen in the United States, over 100 people have died and that is climbing by the hour 1000 plus people have are still missing.

And, you know, this is a direct result of hundreds of years of colonization of you know, extracting the water instead of using it, you know, for Lahaina used to be a wetland that water is being used to for tourists for a tourism economy that has not benefited the average native Hawaiian you know, 50% of the homeless population in Hawaii is native, even though they’re a minority of, of the islands at this point. And so when we think about solutions to the climate crisis, we have to think about ownership of land like who who has control over the rebuilding efforts of Maui and Lahaina and that that ownership offer must go to natives from Maui in their rebuilding efforts. And so when we think about our solutions to the climate crisis, who to include in this solutions, and the stewardship of our lands, we must include indigenous perspective and indigenous knowledge. And so yeah, it’s both perspective and solutions shift.

Well, I guess in terms of just from my lawyer background, I can’t help myself. Say there are people that have the deeds, two properties that got burned down, and they’ve owned those properties anywhere from two days to 220 years. What happens to those properties? Do they go to indigenous groups? Or they they maintain ownership of it? What’s your view of that?

Well, right now we have a situation where there are private developers that are trying to buy off land from Native Hawaiians immediately after the fires. So what we’re dealing with right now is making sure that native land stays native. So that’s the first effort because, you know, what we’re seeing is an immediate land grab efforts. And as for the solutions in the long term future of how to, you know, reclaim ownership of private land.

You know, I leave that up to, you know, the city council that there’s going to be a huge vote next year for the area of Lahaina of who they vote for in order to shift the decision making process over to people who are actually from the island. And you know, I hope I hope they come up with an effort that makes sense for everyone.

So what do you want to be remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?

Um, I don’t really want to legacy I just wanted to, for myself be part of the solution? I don’t. I don’t have any personal career goals from this. I just want a sustainable future. And to be honest, like, I know that you said I was living my dream by doing this work, and I definitely feel like it’s fulfilling. But my dream is to not have to fight tooth and nail for for a future. My dream is to have a bookshop, where I can read and maybe there’s a like restaurant on the second level, and I can relax and have a family and work.

But but I’m doing this, I’m doing this, and I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. And I don’t think I have I should have to do that. And I’ve met people a lot younger than me fighting this fight that I definitely think don’t don’t have to be doing this. But they feel like they have to. So yeah, my my goal is to live a normal life. And I hope that someday we fight hard enough for that’s possible.

Well, absolutely. And obviously, we all have played a part in it to a certain extent, or our ancestors played a part in setting up this this situation, probably more unconsciously than consciously but I guess that’s part of the problem is that it’s it is unconscious. Tell us a little bit about your heroes? Who are your heroes in the in the environmental movement, or just in general, who would be up on your Mount Rushmore of Elise’s heroes?

Yeah, I, when I was younger, like I said, I really didn’t think that I had a voice and that people who looked like me, it was even possible to be in politics. And so I feel like I’ve got to say, Alexandria, Ocasio Cortez. So when I was a teenager, I saw knocked down the house, I saw her passion for a green New Deal. And I realized, Oh, my God, like, she’s a young Latina that is fighting for climate justice. I guess I can do this, too. She’s brave enough. It’s time for me to be brave enough. And I really, I really don’t think I would be here without someone like her. And I appreciate her efforts and inspiring young people like me. And then I also am just really inspired by Latin American politics.

I see Lula’s efforts when he was president before but also now for for ending deforestation in the Amazon. And just collectively, I think that, you know, I’m inspired by my Ecuadorian family, and just the the perspective of a lot of people from Latin America to be very involved in the political world, because they see how tied it is to their everyday life. And I try to have that mindset with me, even though the United States is very individualized. And not a lot of people vote and aren’t as engaged in their local state federal politics. And yeah, I, I have my grandfather was really, very politically involved when he was in college. And when I was in Ecuador, just a month ago, he was telling me a whole bunch of stories of how he organized when he was in college, and I’m inspired by that, too.

So that’s three, you’ve got one more.

Let’s see, I think I gotta give it to the old white man, Bernie Sanders. I know, he doesn’t. He doesn’t exactly represent me in terms of identity politics, but he, he inspired a generation to to get up and not just fight for what we can get by with but fight for what we deserve. And that is not common in American politics, either. And I I wouldn’t have to give huge kudos to him.

Well, it’s it’s, you know, it’s always enlightening to me to hear people’s heroes because everybody chooses different people, and different people have a different impact. And so I appreciate you sharing that with us. Because it’s, it’s a great thing to hear about, because inspiration is such a big part of political change. So I think inspiration is what’s required to move people. And obviously, you’ve inspired a lot of people, to young people to get active. What what do you think it’s going to take to get more young people inspired? And, and maybe people who are not so young to get off? You know, get off their seats and get into action?

That’s the burning question. I really hope and I’ve tried to emphasize since that viral video that you can’t borrow hope. And, you know, hope can be a renewable resource that you pull from to drive you to continue to act, but you can’t get that through somebody else. You have to get that through your own activism through your own involvement in your community. You know, it’s about it’s about young people and all generations, feeling how the climate crisis has impacted them in their home.

So, you know, it isn’t just about the Biden prejudiced presidency. This is about how is housing related to the climate crisis. How is immigration related to the climate crisis? What is your community dealing with, unrelated to climate or you know, related, and tie back to climate and see how you You can tie those solutions together and seen immediate impact in your community. It’s about Yeah, it’s about getting young people to act locally so that they can see the own benefits of their actions. And I hope that my video didn’t just inspire them but but actually get them to start thinking about how they can get involved.

Well, I appreciate that message. And I, I believe that sometimes it takes another person asking someone to get involved to get them involved, because I think a lot of times people are yearning to to help, but they don’t know where or how. And so all of us who are involved in this will be well served to go out there and ask somebody, Hey, why don’t you get involved? Come help. Come join me. So with that, everybody go out there and ask somebody and we’ll be right back in just one minute, talking to Elise Joshi, who is the Executive Director of Gen-Z for Change.

You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is your host, Matt Matern, and I’ve got Elise Joshi on the program. And Elise, we were talking before the break about acting locally. And I know one of your passions is urban planning, I believe that that’s something that certainly can drive change. You see a lot of European cities 1000s of people riding their bikes to work or, you know, all over the city. You know, whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, they’re out there on their bikes, and it’s pretty amazing. Saving probably, you know, bazillion tonnes of fossil fuels. And, and you’re, you’re a big proponent of, of not driving and using mass transit. What can we do to kind of drive change there?

Absolutely. So I’m lucky to live in the Bay Area where I can use the train and bike everywhere I go. But it made me realize what is possible even in a country where we have put all of our transit funding into roads. And we think about, oh, my goodness, how many billions of billions of dollars do we put into roadwork and thinking about how much less damage just biking does to the roads, but we would need to repair less, and spend less on our infrastructure if we just biked around, but more fun than that.

Biking, biking is a way to like communicate with your surroundings better than a car so does walking like how can we incentivize people to spend less time in a car and actually experienced the outside world and engage with their community, you know, half of driving trips are less than three miles. And if we reduce those, we can make a huge effort in our transportation emissions, but also make people’s everyday lives and wellbeing better. When my my partner sent me a photo when he was in Amsterdam, of a man and a prosthetic leg biking with his buddies in Amsterdam, and that really just shows the culture that’s out there is that you, you anybody can be on a bike. And if we just build our infrastructure out to supporting public transit, bosses, walkable infrastructure, that we’d be in a lot better place.

Absolutely. And it’s, as you said, it, you get more pleasure in life when you do bike. So it’s a win win situation. You know, I one of the things that I noticed I took a train ride from Chicago to Denver recently, was just the sorry state of our, our train system here in the United States, and that we probably have invested less than most third world company countries in in our train system. And it seems like if we had spent a quarter of the amount of money that we spent building roads as to building a amazing train system, we’d have a train system that would be the envy of the world.

Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is this is an opportunity to match up with the rest of the world at this point. I mean, you go to New York, and I went through the tunnels and it felt like a magical labyrinth of oh my god like I don’t even have to wait for the train that comes every three to four minutes and you know, I can choose which train I want to go on to go to the same place and as somebody that use Bart you know, if you miss your Bart, you’re you need to wait 20 minutes until your next one and you’re good Have you late to wherever you’re going? So you really got to be on time.

You know, it we are we are used to less than the bare minimum in this country and I’m lucky, you know, there should be a rail system to get from San Francisco to LA Why isn’t there and why, you know, we should make it you know, fast 200 miles an hour or like, you know, you we’ve got rails that that are slow, unreliable or non existent. And we can do a lot better than that.

Yeah, that was one of the things I learned on my ride, one of their Amtrak employees was talking with me, and I said, you know, the rides kind of rough. And he said, Well, it’s all freight train tracks, because the Amtrak doesn’t own any of the tracks kind of east of the far, you know, the East Coast and the urban belts, right along the coast on the Atlantic side.

So it’s, it’s pretty incredible that I assume the fossil fuel industry was certainly behind defunding our railway system, because it obviously benefited them. I wanted to ask you, you’d said you wanted to have a family based upon what, you know, do you do really want to bring children into this world? Or is it your you’re afraid of that at all?

Yes, yes. And a lot of young people are afraid of, is it ethical to have a child and in today’s world, but I believe that it’s also a sense of hope, you know, I am committed to, to winning a green New Deal, I’m committed to winning adjust future for everybody. And, you know, I feel like it’s me giving up by me not advocating for the future that I want and deserve.

And, you know, I’m not, I’m not really willing to commit to this doom Doom is to mindset that we have failed so much that there should not be another generation that follows. And you know, what, there will inevitably be another generation that follows. And by me being committed to a future that I really want, I’m that much more passionate to build it.

That’s a great point. And I, I think that one of the things that I had read about you was that you didn’t, didn’t ascribe to this doom day philosophy, and that you wanted to focus on solutions, which I believe is the best way, the best method to approach this, we need to live in the solution. If we’re living in the solution, there are just 1000s of great people who actually millions of great people out there working on these solutions and trying to make the world a better place.

And, and it can happen, we just need to keep working together, building this community supporting companies and governmental officials that are working for these changes, and, and voting for people that that support these changes, and the change will occur. Absolutely. So what’s the next thing on your docket? Where are you going? Oh, Who are you meeting with? Where? Where are you going to rock the world? Next, always.

I don’t know. I hope that I’m excited what other people are about to do you know, I’m not there. But New York climate week is going to be a month away. And there’s going to be you know, mass protests as the UN has their climate summit of just, you know, regular people that really want Biden to declare a climate emergency and take action on fossil fuels. So excited to see what other young people come up with on the other side of the country.

But as for me, I’m, I have a few ideas cooking that I’m not able to share quite yet. But in the meantime, you know, really just trying to support the labor campaigns that are happening right now, like UAW, and also take some time to rest because a message to everyone out there, rest is super important. And, you know, we’re trying to be here for you know, 5060 years more in our fight towards climate justice. And that can’t happen if we burn ourselves out in the next three. So I’m trying to spend time with loved ones and bike around the Bay Area and have some time for myself.

That’s a good message. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So good. Or a friend of mine once said that to me a few years ago, and I think I’ve I’ve tried to adapt my life a little bit more to that philosophy because they think it is a sustainable one. Tell us a little bit about your thoughts on cop 28 which, which is coming up in Dubai, hosted by one of the biggest oil and natural gas producing countries in the world. Is that going to be you know, a crazy situation or can we get some actual progress out of that?

I think it’s gonna be both the COP28 sounds like a big contradiction right now. But I anticipate the most fossil fuel lobbyists that we’ve ever seen at an at a cop in the past but also a relentless passionate coalition of young people, indigenous groups, global south activists and more like pushing as hard as they possibly can. And I yeah, I can’t wait to see what what comes out of it. And I hope to be covering it on TikTok just because a lot of young people don’t even know that Caponi, what’s happening or what cop 28 is, and maybe there’s some educational work that I can do around that.

Education is clearly one of the most important things we can do to raise awareness and, and there’s so much to read and to learn about the climate crisis. And I appreciate what you were saying about how you were reading three to five bucks books a week. And that that’s, that really helps allow you to talk to this talk about these issues intelligently and passionately and persuasively, which is a very important piece of this process, like not everybody else is going to go out there and read as much as you’ve read probably, that’s just reality.

So thank you for all your great reading. I wanted to just tell the audience to go check out what you’re doing as executive director for Gen-Z for Change. So please do follow Gen-Z for Change and Elise Joshi and all the great work that they’re doing. And then follow us on our social media channels on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at AClimateChange.com. Please check out our website, give us feedback. Tell us about guests you’d like to hear.

And so in the coming week, go out there and be the change you want to see in the world, improve the environment, talk to elected officials volunteer. Those are the kinds of things that you’ve seen Elise do so effectively stand up but in the press room, confronting the Biden administration to do more, and that’s what we all need to be doing. Step up and take the change into our own hands. So thank you, Luis, again for being on the program. It’s been a pleasure having you.

Thank you so much.

(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)

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