(Teen Vogue – Rose Strauss) “Young and naive”. That’s how I was dismissed by Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner when I confronted his baseless claims about climate change. I stood up to ask a simple question — Pennsylvanians are concerned about climate change and you say it’s caused by body heat. Does this have anything to do with the $200,000 you’ve taken from the fossil fuel industry? His response to my question shocked me.
I was the first young women to come up to the mic. The first thing Scott Wagner did when I got up to speak was to interrupt me — “Hey, how are you?” He didn’t do this to anyone else who asked a question. I could hear the crowd giggle in response, almost approving of his interruption. My hands started sweating and I got confused. All of a sudden, I forgot the question I had prepared.
Despite the distraction, I knew what I was there to figure out: Scott Wagner’s connection to the fossil fuel executives responsible for sewing climate change denial and inaction for decades. I study environmental science in school and have been studying environmental issues since I was 12 years old. I’m intimately aware of earth systems, the greenhouse effect, and the damage warming gases have on our climate, oceans, and people. I wanted to see Scott Wagner look a young woman in the eyes and reckon with his reckless stance on climate change, an issue that threatens very life on earth.
What he said in response stunned me. There I was, one of the youngest people in the town hall, standing up to ask a question about something I care about deeply. To hear a grown man, a politician at that, deride me by calling me “young and naive” was one of the most embarrassing and frustrating moments of my life. I felt a pang in my heart. I felt belittled. Insignificant. I wanted to scream. Read the full story on Teen Vogue.