Xiuhtezcatl Martinez - Taking On Climate Change with "We Rise"

September 5, 2017 - Xiuhtezcatl Martinez 09/05/2017 Views: 10,722

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, author of "We Rise," describes what motivated him to begin his career as a climate activist at the age of six. (6:08)

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My guest tonight isa climate activist,

hip-hop artist and authorwhose new book is called

We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide

to Building a Movement That Restores the Planet.

Please welcomeXiuhtezcatl Martinez.

-♪ -(applause, cheering)

-Welcome to the show, sir.-Pleasure to be here, man.

You are a young mandoing amazing things,

and you have been working hardat this for a very long time.

If you ask most peoplewhen they got into, uh,

working to helpwith climate change,

they would be like,they haven't started.


you started when you were six?

Yeah. I could probablybarely see over this table.

Like, how does that start?I know you talk about it

in the book,and your mom was really someone

who was passionate about,you know,

fighting for the environment,but what are you doing at six...

that-that you go like, "Yeah,this is what I'm gonna do,

Legos are not for me, man"?

Really.I played with Legos so much.

Um... (chuckles)


I got... I took myself reallyseriously when I was little.

You know, I saw a documentaryabout the destruction

of the planet, and I was like,"This is my destiny."

-Right. -And I was really,like, terrified by the thought

that my futurewas gonna be tainted

because peopleall over the world

weren't taking adequate action

to protect usfrom climate disaster.

And that inspired meto do something about it.

I told my mom, "I needto talk to people. Help me."

You know, so she becamemy publicist and my manager

and my agent, age six.

You know,so that was pretty dope.

And I... I got involved,and since then it's just been,

you know, more opportunitiesto use my voice

to make a differencein the world.

It's, um,been quite the journey.

You've reallybeen working hard at this.

You're not just speaking aboutit, but you're an activist.

-Mm. -Uh, you went onto take over from your sister

fighting against threats to...global warming,

then climate challengein Colorado at the age of nine.

Please explain to mehow you take over any operation

that doesn't involve cookiesat the age of nine.

Yeah, so, we got involvedwith this organization

called Earth Guardiansthat my mom started

as an accredited high schoolin Maui, Hawaii.

My sister was running it.

She passed it on to mewhen I was, like, nine.

Me and my friends went intoour local county commissioners

and we bannedthe use of pesticides.

We continued to work in ourcommunity to ban fracking,

-um, for five years...-Let's back up, let's back...

'cause you just saidyou were nine,

and then you went into offices

and you got them to ban...

-using pesticides.-The use of pesticides.

-Yeah, yeah.-Like, how do you,

how do you even begin thisas a nine-year-old?

Um, it was a whole squadof us, man.

We mobbed them, you know?


-No, for real.-Just a squad of nine-year-olds?

Yeah, there was about,there was about, uh,

maybe ten of us that spokeat a press conference,

and then we went in and we,we gave our testaments,

or our-our speechesas to why we didn't think

that was a good, healthy optionfor our community.

And you're writing speechesabout this at the age of nine.

-Yeah.-A squad of nine-year--

Where do you find the othernine-year-olds?

You know, I think the youngpeople all over this country,

more than we give themcredit for,

are actually really interestedin being engaged,

but they don't reallyhave a platform.

I was really lucky to havethe support of family

and a community,so we just reached out

to these youth that did care,

and all of a suddenwe were all over.

You talk about thatin the book as well,

which I appreciate,because in many ways,

-this is like an activist guide.-Yeah.

You know, you talk aboutmobilizing,

you talk aboutgetting out there,

you talk about spreadingthe message.

You talk about doing,which is really important.

You know, you're optimistic,but you're a doer as well.

There is a quote in the bookthat really stuck with me,

and that was, um, speaking about

how we may be in a reallyhorrible time right now,

but this generation has theopportunity to rewrite history.

What do you mean by that?

I think that now more than everwe have an opportunity

to re-approach an issuelike climate change.

Where it's traditionallybeen seen as, like,

politicians and activistscare about this issue,

but truly, it's so much biggerthan that.

If you see the thousandsof lives that are being lost

across South Asia, Africa,the Middle East, due to floods.

You know, Hurricane Irmathat is now brewing,

-Hurricane Harveythat hit Texas. -Right.

You know,it's about people's lives,

it's about people's families,their homes, their community.

That is the issuethat we are facing.

And as a memberof the younger generation,

I believe that we have thisopportunity now,

to face this crisis and tochange the way we are acting.

And we are doing somethingabout it.

I'm in a lawsuit againstthe federal government,

suing the Trump administration

for violating ourconstitutional rights

to life, liberty, propertyand the pursuit of happiness,

for failing to act onclimate change.

We are changing the waythat we are taking action.

We are getting artistic,we are moving into the streets

in a way we have never seen.

So, now, this generation,is reshaping the way

that we address an issueas big as climate change.

It is-- We're not gonnaallow this era

to be defined by Donald Trump.


(cheers and applause)

So... So just so we're onthe same page.

You just said you're gonna sueDonald Trump.

-You're suing him right now.-Yeah.

Which, I mean, that's pretty,like, asshole-ish of you.

I'm just gonna put out there.

-No, because suing is his thing,and you, like... -Right.

That's like going up againstDaenerys with her dragons.

-That's like, going up, like...-Yeah, sure.

That's-that's pretty mean.

What do you hope to achievewith this?

Do you actually hope that he'llsee his day in court?

So, myself and 20 other youngpeople are actually already

plaintiffs in a lawsuit thathas been in place since 2015,

against the Obamaadministration.

We were-- it then transferredover to Trump

-when he was elected,-Right.

which we were kindof stoked about.

Like, it was way more satisfyingto say we're suing Trump

than it was to saywe're suing Obama.

-But you're suingno matter what. -Yeah.

-You're going.-Regardless.

We believe that ourfederal government

is violating ourconstitutional rights.

They are infringing uponour rights by colluding

with the fossil fuel industryto create this crisis.

Supporting the very industries

that are creatingclimate change.

So February 5th, we actuallyhave our date in trial.

So there was motionsto dismiss that were filed

from the mostpowerful government,

or one of the most powerfulgovernments on the planet,

and the fossil fuel industry.

They were trying to get ourlawsuit thrown out of court.

After two different judges

reviewed this motion to dismiss,

they said we do have the rightto take this to trial,

so February 5this our trial date.

We are hoping that what willhappen is that the courts

will force the federalgovernment to enforce

massive climate recovery plansthat have been put together

by the top climate scientistsin the world

to reduce our greenhouse gasfootprint as a nation,

back down to a safe levelfor our generation.

You just made me feel like thebiggest underachiever ever, man.


Thank you so muchfor being on the show.

It really is amazing, man.

Thank you again.

We Rise is available now.

An amazing young man,a fantastic book.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, everybody.

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