By Jonathan Soohoo April 9, 2018

Parkland. Las Vegas. Orlando. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. Columbine. And so many others.

We mourn for all those whose lives and dreams have been cut short, and for the families and communities that are forever changed by these horrific acts of violence. And we applaud those who are speaking out for what they believe in and organizing and demanding that our leaders act.

On March 24th, hundreds of thousands of people around the world demonstrated in small towns and large cities, in a powerful show of support for the families and communities shattered by gun violence. Their message is clear: our leaders must do more to protect our families and our communities.

Some of the most consequential movements in our nation’s history – women’s suffrage, Civil Rights, LGTBQ equality, gun reform, and now the demand for action on climate change share a common theme: they are guided, in large part, by young people.

Like gun violence, climate change doesn’t discriminate. Stronger storms, deeper droughts and more flooding affect people and communities regardless of geography, skin color, place of birth or occupation.

Shishmaref. Jean Lafitte. Isle de Jean Charles. Tangier Island.

These are just some of the communities that are literally being washed away because of climate change – right here, in the United States. And these communities won’t be the last.

Some of our leaders in Washington refuse to act despite the scientific evidence, climbing financial costs and the devastating human toll of climate change. It’s up to us to educate our leaders, to show them that young people are demanding action on climate change.

The good news: Recent polls show that majorities of young people – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – believe not only that climate change is happening but also that we must do more to solve it. There’s also mounting evidence that more young people are paying attention to the issues and their representatives’ records, and planning to vote in November.

But we can’t take our foot off the pedal – we need to show our leaders that we’re serious and will hold them accountable.

Defend Our Future is empowering young people to get involved in the political process. We work with students, young professionals and other activists, providing them with the tools and information they need to be climate leaders on campuses and in communities across the country.

The national movement for bold action on climate change is not limited to the more visible activities like marching, sit ins and other demonstrations. There are other actions you can take to make your voice heard that are just as meaningful: calling and meeting with your representative, writing a letter to the editor, organizing your community through social media and events, and registering to vote.

Now more than ever, young people are leading the way – they’re marching and organizing, and ready to make the world a better place for all. In November, many of them will head to the polls for the first time.

The American people want their representatives to stand up for them and future generations – not for the special interests seeking favor through campaign contributions.

We cannot afford the status quo. Our leaders must listen, and they must act.

People enjoying a music festival, dancing in a nightclub, or learning in a classroom should never have to worry about their safety. Nor should those who live in communities that are being washed away.

There is never an inappropriate time to talk about issues that have very real implications for our safety. The time for action is now. Because their future – our future – is worth it.

Defend our people. Defend our planet. Defend our future.