This letter features reporting from “Disaster Aid Running Out As Pakistan Struggles To Recover From 2022 Floods” by Fred de Sam Lazaro, Sarah Clune Hartman, John Yang, and Kaisha Young

Dear Congressman Raskin,

My name is Sahana, and I am an 11-year-old 6th grader at Sidwell Friends School. By reading the article “Disaster Aid Running Out As Pakistan Struggles To Recover From 2022 Floods," I learned that Pakistan has had months of never-ending floods that left more than 1,700 people dead and a third of the country underwater. This is in part a result of our actions: increasing carbon emissions.

The U.S. is a major contributor to carbon emissions, which is impacting places all around the world and increasing climate change. Did you know that Maryland’s carbon emissions per capita are roughly eight times the amount of Pakistan’s? That’s 8.5 versus 1.04 metric tons per person.

Climate change is impacting both Pakistan and Maryland in similar ways. For example, in Pakistan, winters have become shorter, summers have become hotter, and rain has become more severe and heavy. People also are having major issues with growing crops, which is causing food shortages. But that’s not just for Pakistan; places all around the globe have the same issue every day including the U.S. In Maryland, temperatures have risen 2.5 degrees fahrenheit since 1900. If that trend keeps going, we will see an increased frequency in storms, farmers will struggle to grow crops, and people's health will be more at risk. But some places, like Pakistan, don't have the money or resources to be able to correct our mistakes.

In 2023, the world created 37 billion metric tons of carbon emissions. This is why I am asking you to consider putting a yearly limit on carbon emissions produced by Maryland. In the article, a flood victim reports, “Who helps the poor? Everyone comes, takes pictures and goes.” This illustrates that when we produce carbon emissions, we are causing the problem, and then leaving the mess for others. We need a lasting solution. If Maryland takes the lead and starts taking action, other states may create a limit for carbon emissions as well, causing a chain effect and preventing more natural disasters like the one in Pakistan.

The U.S. is using too much carbon and it is impacting people all around the world. We need to start taking action now. I am looking forward to seeing Maryland limit carbon emissions. Thank you for taking your time to read this letter.


Sahana Altevogt

Sahana Altevogt is a 6th grade student at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. She is passionate about helping others, especially those less fortunate than her. Outside of school Sahana enjoys playing travel soccer and was recently selected to the Maryland Olympic Development program. When Sahana is not at school or on the soccer field, she can be found cuddling and caring for her two dogs. Sahana has combined her passions for a number of impactful volunteer activities. In 5th grade she made and sold dog biscuits, raising several hundred dollars for a local animal shelter. Combining her desire to help others and her passion for soccer, Sahana also partnered with the Lengo Futbol Academy, located in Tanzania, to collect soccer equipment for the club. Lengo uses soccer as a means to provide access to education for its community.

Read more winning entries from the 2023 Local Letters for Global Change contest!