Finding Community in Climate Activism
by Purva Bommireddy
How 16 year old climate activist and Greenpeace volunteer, Purva Bommireddy, joined the movement.
My name is Purva, and I am 16 years old. I have always felt a deep, powerful connection to the environment, and have always loved that my suburban neighborhood is enveloped by its natural landscape, where I’ve been living since the age of three. When I was younger, I would look up to the towering trees next to my house as a source of comfort, admiration, and fascination.
A couple of years later, I lost the exquisite forest to a construction site being built by a large company, valuing their companies profits over the ecosystem this forest had become. It used to be home to deer, rabbits, squirrels, and many other forms of life. Due to deforestation, they were forced onto the streets in attempts to find food and shelter. I was crushed by this at a young age, unable to comprehend why people would do something so terrible and cruel.
I didn’t understand how some people tended to value their industry, businesses, and money over the very biodiversity that has thrived in our world for millions of years. The reality confused me and overwhelmed me, because my mind couldn’t grasp this inherent selfish and thoughtless behavior. All I knew was that the trees that loomed to the west were always a soothing presence, but now they were lost forever, because of humans.
From then on, I saw the environment as a fragile, sensitive ecosystem that needed to be saved from my own race. My love of nature had turned into an ignited passion to rescue it from destruction. Why was everyone around me just going about their lives? Why wasn’t anyone doing anything about this? Why weren’t they acting?
I know that my admiration for the planet has existed from as far back as I can remember. Some of my most precious memories are with nature, from climbing trees in my backyard to visiting a butterfly conservatory. Even just being outdoors made me feel serenely free, as if I were a bird that soared through the clouds that drifted above me. Not only did nature surround me, but I knew that it was also rooted within me. I could feel it speaking to me, sprouting the seeds of action.
Through my own curiosity to learn more about the planet and the threats that it faced, I discovered the severity of the environmental crisis as I read more and more books: air pollution, coral bleaching, plastic waste, marine debris, climate change, fossil fuels, habitat loss, extinction. These words swarmed around my head. I felt trapped and helpless as I began to understand the magnitude of the environmental crisis. I didn’t know where to start, but I knew that I needed to act. I felt the planet calling, and realized that I had to do something to change the situation. I needed to know that I had tried to help make the world a better pace for life to thrive and live harmoniously with their surroundings.
I soon found out that I was not alone in my passion. I discovered that there were so many young people like me that were deeply afraid for our future and the future of generations to come. I was very inspired to see that kids were taking the issue into their own hands, which became the hope that I needed to start making a difference. This is where the story diverges to the present. Over the past couple of months, I have gotten to learn about, meet, and speak with many amazing young people who are taking action for our future. I do not have a clue as to where the future will take me, but now, surrounded by so many young people that are fighting for change, I can boldly say that we are rising for our future. Today, millions of youth striked for the climate, and tomorrow, we will change the world. No one can stop us. We will demand change until we see action. Until we see world leaders uniting behind the science. Until we see the impossible transformed into a reality. Because action is even more powerful than any hope we could ever have.