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Climate Action: Youth’s Role in Shaping a Sustainable World in Silicon Valley

In This Episode:

As we spotlight the escalating impacts of climate change within Silicon Valley, the evidence is striking. In just a single year, extreme heat enveloped the area, with ten locations enduring over 30 unusually warm nights. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley grappled with severe aridity, enduring 13 of the driest months on record. Adding to the area's environmental woes, the relentless march of sea level rise continues unabated, with a century-long increase of approximately 200 millimeters, or 8 inches, in the Silicon Valley region alone. These indicators not only mark shifts in our climate but also signal urgent calls to action for mitigation and adaptation strategies. 

Climate Change Issues in Silicon Valley:

  • Extreme Heat: Ten places in Silicon Valley had 30 or more hot nights in one year
  • Drought: Silicon Valley experienced 13 of the 30 driest months.
  • Sea Level Rise: Sea levels have increased over the past century by about 200 millimeters or 8 inches in Silicon Valley.

"Climate change is happening. I've seen in my own family from my grandfathers who had to live near secondhand smoke, the impact, both health and from environmental, that these fossil fuel projects are having."

About the founders of Green Team Power:

Meet the founders of GreenTeamPower, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization: Keshav Narang and Shivek Narang.

Keshav Narang:

Keshav Narang, a 17-year-old high schooler, is a dedicated climate activist, environmentalist, builder, and entrepreneur. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, including AI and ML, he has pioneered tools to tackle environmental issues. Among these innovations is EcoPolicyAdvocate (https://ecopolicyadvocate.org), a generative AI tool specifically crafted to summarize climate bills and streamline the public commentary process.

Beyond his technological endeavors, Keshav co-founded a renewable energy startup (https://asksolarpanel.com) that boasts patented technology in solar battery design. Drawing from his experiences as a young scientist and advocate, he recognizes the transformative potential of combining knowledge and insights from diverse sources.

In alignment with this vision, Keshav, alongside his brother Shivek Narang, co-founded GreenTeamPower, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Discover more about their impactful work by visiting their website at https://greenteampower.org/. The organization is dedicated to bringing technical expertise to frontline activists, fostering more effective advocacy for environmental causes.

Shivek Narang

Shivek Narang is a University of Pennsylvania student studying the links between cognitive science, neuroscience, AI, and computational biology. He's passionate about lab research and committed to social justice, working to solve major societal issues. Shivek is actively involved in climate activism, focusing on its impact on marginalized communities and advocating for sustainable practices and environmental conservation to address climate change's health effects. He also runs ‘Our Teen Brains,' a platform promoting mental health in teenagers and fighting the stigma around mental illnesses like depression by sharing stories and resources and organizing events for open discussions on mental health among youth.

"Everybody from software engineers to media designers to activists, scientists, everybody can get involved and contribute to climate change, specifically in renewable energies."

Show Notes:

  • Learn about Green Team Power and its mission to empower students to address climate change
  • Explore the pressing need to address climate issues by 2035 or 2040, especially from the perspective of the younger generation
  • How there's a gap in the education system when it comes to climate action, and how Green Team Power aims to bridge this gap
  • Understand how Green Team Power empowers students to get involved in sustainability projects and raise awareness
  • Explore how growing up in a drought-prone area and witnessing the impacts of climate change has driven the founder's passion for Green Team Power
  • How Green Team Power's educational workshops and seminars are raising awareness about climate change
  • Explore the Youth Empowerment Series and how it encourages students to get involved in environmental clubs
  • Learn about the Eco Advocate Podcast and how it highlights stories of climate leaders and their visions
  • Learn about the growing opportunities in renewable energy careers and how young people can contribute
  • How Green Team Power inspired a mother to start her own organization to combat climate change

"History is never just passively done; somebody always leads it."

Episode Transcription

So, tell us about a brief history of your organization. Who do you serve, and how did it all begin?

Absolutely. Green Team Power was started three years ago. And it started because we recognized that many of the climate problems we face must be addressed very soon. In many of the legislation we see, this is by 2035 or 2040. So many of the people my age have to be involved. Now, unfortunately, there's no curriculum or education in a school that offers this kind of climate literacy, and it is mainly related to the topics that are happening currently in the legislation that is being passed in the new projects that are being built. So Green Team Power aims to help students and empower students to become involved in these projects by spreading awareness about the pathways to a more sustainable future and how we can learn about the science and the technical parts behind this to make our voices the most powerful and impactful that we can.

Absolutely. So I… was born in 2006, 17 years ago. And 2006 was the first year California was officially classified as in a drought in this century. Now I am almost 18 years old, and there have been only three years in my childhood, even in Silicon Valley, one of the most developed parts of the world where I have not had to live in a drought. And so it's obvious that climate change is happening. I've seen this in my own family from my grandfathers who had to live near secondhand smoke the impact. both health and environmental that these fossil fuel projects are having. And in my fifth grade, I remember going to school and there was a smoke day so school had to get cancelled. The skies were all orange, and for many days, we had to cancel our school that way. So, growing up, I and all my friends were seeing the impacts of climate change and the projects that fossil fuels are continuing to do. And so learning from the different organizations about the power that young people can bring. Especially when we are equipped with the knowledge and treated as adults with the voices we can bring, it has inspired me to start and continue Green Team Power.

Absolutely. So we find the time in the evenings. We started by running a club in our school. So the year after, we had the smokes. smoke day in California, our teacher set aside at the end of the year, he said, our science teacher set aside a few weeks, and he said, I'm going to now teach about environmental science. This is not a common practice, but this inspired me and the students in my grade to say, why don't we start an environmental club in our school? Why don't we start a renewable energy club in our school? And then on the weekends and after school, sometimes we would go once a week, twice a week to our local parks. So there's one near the school where I went to, the Sabercat National Park, and we learned about the invasive species that were growing there, how water and the drought were affecting the plants that grow there. And we went to beach cleanups and all these different projects. And so slowly we started to learn together about how we can address climate change and then how we can spread this now to other schools and beyond. So you started as a person team, is that correct? Yes, it was a school effort actually. I wouldn't say it's one person, but it was actually a team of a few students. Myself there's another boy, Walter. We used to, were the youngest students, the fifth grade in the club. And we learned from some of the older students. Walter eventually moved to another school, so I tried to continue it in all the places that I've gone.

So, currently, we have about, now we have a few chapters that are spreading out. Ah, okay. So, a few years ago, I gave a presentation online, and a boy was there. He was a few years younger than me, and he was in Texas, and he listened to my talk, and then several years later, I was at a conference, and he ran into me and said, hey, are you Keishim Narang? I listened to your talk several years ago, and now I'm inspired to do something similar in my own place. So now I'm, we are connecting with people. We're moving beyond Silicon Valley. We are trying to set up a team in Australia and India, so we're trying to get international now, a constantly growing movement. But we also have most of our members here in Silicon Valley. We are always looking to grow and partner with nearby nonprofits and organizations.

I'd really like to continue scaling our efforts and collaborating more with especially the large environmental related projects, not just in California but across the nation. We would love to partner with and become involved with more closely the efforts of environmental protection agency to support the climate action plans that each of our cities and councils and counties are. launching here in California. So, our main focus is to continue growing and expanding over the next few years. 

So, in addition to the scientific and technical knowledge we provide, Green Team Power welcomes the branding, media, and art type side necessary to attract students and grow and make activities and demonstrations possible. So we are not just very scientific and technical focused. Still, in our… workshop series, for example, we always have fun little activities for people to see the impacts of oil spills and to learn more hands-on how this is being involved in the rally and other organizations that we work with; we always encourage some more fun and creative side to deal with this issue because ultimately we do believe in the power of optimism and encouragement and working together to this mission. So. We are not just a purely scientific mission; we like collaborating, especially with other organizations, to grow ourselves.

Currently, we are running five programs to help those towards our mission. The first one is our Youth Empowerment Series. This is a weekly series of presentations we host in our local libraries, the Milpitas, Fremont, and such libraries. or we host these online, or we host these in our schools. And so we help students create clubs. For example, the Renewable Energy Club. In my school and many schools, these presentations are hosted at the Environmental Science Club. These are about five to seven topics, one each day a week. So we have these special weeks where students will invite everybody, even beyond their club, to come and learn about these topics. So, for example, one of our first weekly, The Power Grid series was about oil spills. So, day one was about oil spills, where they occur in the oil refineries, their impacts, and how renewable energy technologies avoid many of these issues on the health, economic, and environmental sides. And then, the next day, we covered biodiversity. The day after that, we looked at nuclear power plants, case studies about how they're becoming safer, the history of nuclear power plants, and how scientifically it works. And so in each of these sections, each series, we cover one topic a day, and we continue on this path. So we have recorded one example; sorry, we have recorded some of these series online, and they can all be found on our website, and we continue to have new ones every week. We'll have another set next week in our local libraries. And so this is the first empowerment series that we do, and this is. engaged for all people of all backgrounds and interests. So we have some for elementary school students. These are a little bit more easily explained with some more hands-on activities. We have middle school and high school students who are also our target audience, and we include current issues here where students can find their local representatives and senators and get contacted. So, another project that we do is a podcast, and this is the Eco Advocate Podcast. Here, we interview the Sierra Club we interview from leaders in our different schools. We ask them what their strategic vision is and how Green Team Power can help out, and we mostly seek their advice, learn about their stories, and think about how we can translate this towards the next coming decades and how we can adapt from what was previously. issues with climate change were largely about awareness and now driving urgent and rapid impact through renewable energy technologies. So we're looking at growth and transcribing and keeping all of these stories into a book we will soon release. Another organization that we're hoping to continue to learn from is Climate Health Now, this is an organization of 700 medical professionals. And so this is an organization that we are inspired by, and that we would like to interview and learn from each of these doctors about their stories in hospitals about how they are seeing the impact of climate change and bring this to our youth communities, especially those that would like to pursue a career in medicine We cover these stories in our podcast that students can see what are the real effects now on the health impact also side of climate change? sure, the third thing we do is occasionally have a few special events; these public comments we call parties. Here, we recruit a lot of youth together, and all at once, we will go to a very special meeting and speak about a bill that we would like to see pass. We thank the city for its efforts. California is one of the most green and sustainable leaders, and we urge them to continue adopting these bills and passages. Currently, one of our focuses is on bike lanes and electric vehicles. And so we have received previously some funding from other grants and organizations to recruit and attract students. And so, after our Youth Empowerment Series, we have a mailing list where students can stay registered and learn about the coming events. And then another side that we are very excited about is our technical side. on the tools we have curated, the tools we can use from the data, and the scientific side to help students stay involved and active. So, one of the tools we've learned about that we were inspired by is the Climate Interactive Tool. This was created in partnership with MIT and also a nonprofit organization. This has sliders that allow politicians and representatives to understand the impact of different efforts in the climate-related space, from implementing a carbon tax to maybe switching to all renewable energies and all these different projects, and how much we subsidize. We can see the growth or the slowing down of the increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and the effect this has on temperatures. So we were inspired by this, and we've curated a list of tools that students can go and take and show in some of these presentations directly. Here's the impact we're going to make by… going to these bills and directly changing what we're funding and supporting through our investment or divestment campaigns. We also support students who are building such projects. So, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, one project we are working on is a bill tracker that students can use to be involved in what renewable energy projects are going on in their communities regardless of where they are in America. Of course, we like to support students who are now at the forefront of research and already working on projects or startups related to renewable energy technology. So, these are a few projects we are currently working on. And, of course, we're always partnering with other organizations if there's ever a rally we can support, especially where the effects of climate change are most impactful. Unfortunately, sometimes this is in West Oakland or Sacramento. We like to attend these events and support, bring volunteers, and recruit students to meet others, network, and learn how they can be involved in a larger journey. 

A few months ago we were at a rally in West Oakland and this was to stop, this was a no coal in Oakland rally. And what is happening is Oakland is already disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. And there are continued projects to ship new coal pipelines and set up new refineries there. And so this was a rally that had people from all backgrounds, from Native Americans to. black people to Latinx people to all backgrounds from young and old here. And one of the stories that we heard about was a mother who had started her own organization because she was afraid of what she was seeing and the impacts that her children would now start to go through in climate change. And she was also a doctor. She worked as a pediatrician right there in Oakland. And she worked with children who were suffering from asthma. And so individuals in West Oakland are suffering disproportionately. two to three times as likely to have asthma as other children. It's not normal that young babies and infants should have to really go and suffer from these impacts. And on the opposite end, we see that there are individuals who are in their almost 90s now who are still suffering from these impacts associated with setting up coal and oil refineries near targets of low income or minority populations. So what Green Team Power tries to do is we find these individuals and we find youth from these organizations and communities to learn about and share this knowledge about how we can now start to fight against this and make a difference. And so one individual that we were particularly able to inspire and lead this movement was in one of our presentation series online was a young student from Texas. And he was inspired to go and start his own chapter, his own branch of… sharing about this topic and about making a difference. And so this is how we try to keep recruiting and spreading awareness to people who may not know about the impacts that personal people are going through in their communities. 

 

So one more story where Green Team Power made an impact was at a rally, a no coal and Oakland rally in West Oakland. And West Oakland is disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Many of our most vulnerable populations are there. And even now in 2023, when we should stop the creation of new fossil fuel projects, there are still new projects that are trying to be started and threatening the lives and health of these individuals. So at this rally I was able to meet people from all different backgrounds, from Native Americans to people of all different colors, of all different ages. And one of the people that we were inspired by was a speaker. And she was a mother, so she started her own organization because she was seeing the impact that climate change was having on her children. And also because she was a pediatrician. And so she worked in children's hospitals where children were two to three times as likely to have asthma than anywhere else in the country and where children who are so young that they should not even… be having this type of condition we're seeing this. And so Green Team Power has started to work with these, this is how we became inspired to learn from doctors and scientists directly who are seeing these health impacts because oftentimes climate change can feel abstract or so large that hearing these personal stories can help us also connect younger students who want to go into the medical career to always keep in mind how climate change is impacting us and to advocate for renewable energy in these communities. Because if we look at from an elected officials perspective, what studies show is that the number one most trusted individuals are our scientists. And so we try to bring this scientific knowledge to our youth and especially those who are interested in this career. That when we raise our voice, when we speak, we provide the most presentable and understandable background in our presentations.



A few months ago, we were at a rally in West Oakland which was to stop; this was a no coal rally in Oakland. And what is happening in Oakland is already disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. And there are continued projects to ship new coal pipelines and set up new refineries there. And so this was a rally with people from all backgrounds, from Native Americans to. Black people to Latinx people of all backgrounds, from young to old. One of the stories we heard was about a mother who had started her own organization because she was afraid of what she was seeing and the impacts that her children would now start to go through in climate change. And she was also a doctor. She worked as a pediatrician right there in Oakland. And she worked with children who were suffering from asthma. And so individuals in West Oakland are suffering disproportionately. Two to three times as likely to have asthma as other children. It's not normal that young babies and infants should have to go and suffer from these impacts. On the opposite end, we see that there are individuals who are in their almost 90s now who are still suffering from these impacts associated with setting up coal and oil refineries near targets of low-income or minority populations. So what Green Team Power tries to do is we find these individuals, and we find youth from these organizations and communities to learn about and share this knowledge about how we can now start to fight against this and make a difference. And so one individual we were mainly able to inspire and lead this movement was a young student from Texas in one of our online presentation series. And he was inspired to go and start his own chapter, his own branch of… sharing about this topic and about making a difference. And so this is how we try to keep recruiting and spreading awareness to people who may not know about the impacts that personal people are going through in their communities. 

So, one more story where Green Team Power impacted was at a rally, a no coal and Oakland rally in West Oakland. And West Oakland is disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Many of our most vulnerable populations are there. Even now, in 2023, when we should stop the creation of new fossil fuel projects, there are still new projects that are trying to be started and threatening the lives and health of these individuals. So, at this rally, I was able to meet people from all different backgrounds, from Native Americans to people of all different colors of all different ages. And one of the people that we were inspired by was a speaker. She was a mother, so she started her own organization because she saw climate change's impact on her children. And also because she was a pediatrician. And so she worked in children's hospitals where children were two to three times as likely to have asthma than anywhere else in the country and where children who are so young that they should not even… be having this type of condition we're seeing this. And so Green Team Power has started to work with these; this is how we became inspired to learn from doctors and scientists directly who are seeing these health impacts because oftentimes climate change can feel abstract or so large that hearing these personal stories can help us also connect younger students who want to go into the medical career to always keep in mind how climate change is impacting us and to advocate for renewable energy in these communities. Because if we look at it from an elected official's perspective, studies show that our scientists are the number one most trusted individuals. And so we try to bring this scientific knowledge to our youth, especially those interested in this career. When we raise our voices and speak, we provide the most presentable and understandable background in our presentations.

Connect with 'Green Team Power':

If you are passionate about the environment and eager to learn more about renewable energy and climate change, reach out to Keshav Narang or Shivek Narang:
 
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