Lucia Mejia Cardenas, Finalist, Local Letters for Global Change

The Amazon is the world's largest rainforest and a critical line of defense against climate change. Image courtesy of PBS NewsHour. Brazil, 2019.

The Amazon is the world's largest rainforest and a critical line of defense against climate change. Image courtesy of PBS NewsHour. Brazil, 2019.

This letter features reporting from “In Brazil, Fires and Deforestation Threaten Species’ Survival” by Amna Nawaz and Mike Fritz

Dear Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez,

I take it that you care about this city. Well, I do too. It is my home along with eight million other people. Those are eight million people who are crossing their fingers in hopes that the next generation will know all the same species we know today. In hopes that in twenty years, all of my friends and I will be able to walk outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. But currently, with the Amazon rainforest on its path to disappearing, the chances of that happening are getting slimmer by the minute.

The Amazon has been getting destroyed for the past few decades and its destruction does not seem to be coming to an end. In my opinion, the survival of hundreds of species and the well-being of generations to come seem more important than a piece of coal. They seem more important than a slice of meat, and than a chunk of plastic. The burning of the forest is not only an insult to the miraculous animals that have called the Amazon home for thousands of years, but to humanity.

Those burning the forest are not only burning the homes of families, of the 6,840 kilometer river, they are burning culture. According to the story on the Pulitzer Center website “In Brazil, Fires and Deforestation Threaten Species’ Survival” by Amna Nawaz and Mike Fritz, the tribes who lived in the rainforest now live in the savanna. Some are noticing how kids are losing traditions and replacing them with mainstream, bland idolizations. So why are we letting this happen? Why are we letting others suffer for our benefit? We do have control over this. We can stop supporting the burning of the Amazon. And I’m not being naive, I’m just making it simple. I understand that it’s not easy to convince people that plastic and non-renewable resources need to go, but there is evidence. Climate change and global warming is not an opinion, it’s just the facts. If someone were to say that global warming is “fake” then they are fighting with facts, and the outcome of these battles are always the same: facts win.

Our community is in no place to overlook the extinction of our most precious, beautiful species. The existence of animals such as the pink dolphins, jaguars, and giant river otters is in our hands. The loss of these species and of the forest itself will impact our lives more than we can comprehend. The Amazon Forest is one of—if not the—largest oxygen resources of the world. And if we lose the species, future generations will never be able to experience them; they will turn into a figment of their imagination. The United States, and specifically New York, has great influence over other countries. When a movement happens here, it has the possibility of becoming  global. Let’s use that to our advantage. Right now, the Climate Movement is being led by youth since after all, we’re the ones who will have to live with the result of climate change. Supporting and promoting this movement on mainstream platforms would attract thousands more. If you can continue speaking about how important our planet is, and start speaking against the burning of the Amazon, it won’t stay local. If we were to educate people about how badly the deforestation of the Amazon is going to affect the future, we could have a more inclusive and diverse movement.

This is a crisis that determines our future, and ignoring it is not going to stop it. I’m pressuring you to take action because I’m scared. I’m scared that even with all the effort others including myself are putting into helping the Amazon, it won’t be enough. And I don’t know what climate change will mean for me and my family. For you, for my neighbors, for my friends. You have the power and resources to do something about this, and to encourage other congresspeople to take action  too. I truly hope that you care about my generation’s future as much as I do.

Sincerely,

Lucia Mejia Cardenas

Lucia Mejia Cardenas is a sixth grader at Bank Street School for Children in New York.  She has been writing for IndyKids newspaper since 2017 and is considering a career in journalism.  She loves fostering dogs and cats, living in the city, and making pancakes.