2019 - Ana Velazquez is a high school Freshman who has devoted her life to dancing, a vegan life style and saving the planet's creatures.
1. What are your thoughts when you hear that the climate is warming, the environment is being destroyed and that humans are the cause?
“I’m upset and angry. I have different stages when I hear about climate change but I can’t be sad anymore because I’m already trying to do things to help. I can’t be angry all the time either because that’s not helping. I wish other people would wake up… I want to tell them all the time. I wish everyone knew what was going on. I have my opinions about what is going on and I want to tell people but I hold back a little.”
2. In your mind what are the forces that drive climate change and environmental degradation?
“I believe that animal agriculture is one of the largest forces causing these problems. I know that fossil fuels are a big cause but I also think that over population is a root cause. Every time I go on social media I see these people who have like, 5,000 kids and they are bringing home all this stuff in plastic bags filled with plastic items and it drives me nuts.”
“So, its animal agriculture, fossil fuels and over population along with consumerism.”
3. Has your life been affected in any way? If so, how?
“Well, I don’t think I’ve really seen anything in my life. Of course, when I drive in a car and look around I see plastic everywhere. Besides that I don’t think I really see anything but my state of mind is definitely affected because its all I think about and I’m scared for my future. I want to see green grass when I’m 90 years old.”
“I don’t really see much happening in Plano, Illinois and I’m very grateful because I know that there are people who live their lives on islands and they are going to be under water and they have no plan to tell them what to do. They aren’t going to have enough or enough food and its our fault because we don’t see the effects that we are causing.”
4. In your opinion, what needs to be done?
“A lot of people argue that this is not easy but I think that we need to be very strict vegetarian or vegan. I am a vegan and that is my opinion. I think that everyone needs to stop consuming so much. Everyone needs to think – “Do I actually need to buy this?” “Should I throw this away or is there a way to repurpose it or give it away to someone who needs it more?”
“People just need to think more. They need to stop thinking about themselves and think about other people as well. In our lives we are all very busy but …. back when we were developing all we thought about was our survival. Now all we think about is what people texted us. We need to think about the overall effects of what we do and how we are going to survive and how we are going to help others survive. We don’t own the planet but we think we do.”
“We also need better leaders but that comes from all the people doing what they need to do. We have to do our own thing and demand better leadership as well. We can’t just rely on one person. If its just the leader that cares and everyone buys their plastic, uses excessive water, and eats their hamburger then we are doomed.”
“There also needs to be more good information available. So many people don’t know what’s going on while many others just aren’t listening. Everyone needs to know what the consequences are going to be.”
5. Do you see yourself as part of the problem or part of the solution?
“Both. I still use a lot of water, I still buy a lot of plastic items and because I live in the Midwest so I just can’t go buy a pineapple it has to be shipped which uses fossil fuels to get here and we still drive cars and my parents have to drive here to see me and that means I’m causing them to use more fossil fuels and I use a lot of electricity in my life. I go to school and sometimes leave the lights on all day and don’t do anything about that.”
“I am vegan and try to tell people when I can about what I am thinking. I really care about the environment. Many young people expect others to do it for them but I don’t feel that way.”
6. What do you think the long term outcome of climate change and environmental degradation will be?
“I think there is a lot of stuff we have done and we can’t undo a lot of it. But I still think that if people get their acts together, quickly, and we figure out what we are going to do then maybe we’ll stop killing so many species and not go extinct ourselves. I have no idea how long we have. Right now I think its going to be a while but I don’t know if its going to be 10 years or more.”
“I hope I live as long as you do and that I don’t die from climate change because I feel like I might.”