Eugene Teen Continues Work to Combat Climate Change

Jun 11, 2014

The Oregon Court of Appeals is expected to issue its ruling Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by two teens who want the state to do more to prevent climate change. One of the plaintiffs in the case, Kelsey Juliana, is about to graduate from high school. KLCC's Rachael McDonald spoke with her recently about what's next.

18-year old Kelsey Juliana will graduate from South Eugene High School Saturday.
Credit Rachael McDonald

I met up with Kelsey Juliana at Amazon Park. As we walked the 18 year old told me her plans.

Juliana: "I will be graduating from South Eugene High School June 14th. And then, I will be leaving mid-July to join the Great March for Climate Action."

The march began earlier this spring.

Juliana: "Their route is from LA to Washington DC. And they're traveling through the Midwest and stopping along the way to talk about the climate crisis, how to protect our environment, and to ensure resources for current and future generations."

She plans to join the march in Nebraska, where a protest is planned where the Keystone-XL pipeline is proposed to be built.

Juliana has been participating in activism around climate change for most of her life. She says joining the climate march is another way of pushing for action.

Juliana: "Climate change is really the big issue of our time. I'm a youth and I recognize that and most of the organizers for the Great March are quite older. They're my grandparents' age and they definitely recognize it because they can see how our earth and our society have changed."

Juliana says she's seen the effects of climate change in the state in her lifetime.

Juliana: "In Oregon, we're seeing less snowpack. And warming temperatures also mean that the snow is not as compact and deep. So, not only is there less of it but it's also melting much faster which means flooding in the early spring and then not as much water reserve in the summer."

Despite her concern about the fate of the planet, Juliana says she's optimistic about the future-- but realistic.

Juliana: "There's a strong probability that there will be consequences from our actions today that will make the future very difficult, you know, difficult from an economic standpoint, difficult on finding a job and a career, difficult for my, the chance that I will have a family, and how will I provide for that family."

Kelsey Juliana has two major role models for her activism. Her parents Catia Juliana and Tim Inglesbee were key players in the logging protests of the 1990s.

She says they put their lives on the line to protect old growth forests

Juliana: "I was definitely born into this field of work and it's not even that I call myself an activist, necessarily, it's just that I have this understanding, I have this background in this foundation of ethics and values centered around the sustainability of our planet and valuing our planet and our resources."

RM: "They must be proud of you."
Juliana: "Yeah. I would say I make my parents pretty proud! [laughs]"

After finishing the Great March for Climate Action in November, Juliana plans to come home to Eugene for a little while. In the spring, she'll be attending Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.