Local youth’s activism inspired after seeing effects climate change of her hometown

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The fight against climate change for the high schoolers in Friday’s climate strike hit home.

But for 17-year-old Cassidy Austin, she said she helped organize the strike in an effort to save her home.

“I’m from McCarthy, Alaska,” she said. “My family owns a white-river rafting company, so I grew up on the river. So being outdoors has been a huge part of my life.”

Austin said she’s seen the rapid melting of the two glaciers nearby her home, the Kennicott and Root glaciers. She’s seen the rivers in the area rise.

So she decided to help lead efforts in Anchorage for the climate strikes.

“Cassidy is striking with hundreds of people in Alaska,” she said. “She has really been the youth leader behind the climate strikes here in Alaska. Being able to work with someone like Cassidy and teens in Alaska, it sounds cliche, but it gives us hope for the future and it gives us a reason to fight for their future.”

One thing Austin is calling for is a change in Alaska’s reliance on oil and gas.

“I’m encouraged that younger people are getting involved in policy debates,” said Kara Moriarty,
President and CEO of Alaska Oil and Gas Association. “The reality is that even though there are some that want to move away from traditional sources of energy, the facts are that the U.S. Energy Information Administration, The International Energy Agency, have all forecasted that 50 percent of the globe’s energy is still going to come from traditional sources like oil and natural gas.”

“Oil and mining won’t last as long,” Austin said. “Eventually those minerals and resources will be gone and I think having a sustainable economy is far more important than quick and easy money. I want to have a future in this state. A sustainable future in this state. And I’m worried that things like the proposed pebble mine and climate change is hindering that.”

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