Opinion: Unalaskan Headed to COP 23 in Germany

Oct 3, 2017

Guest opinion contributor Cade Terada.
Credit Courtesy

My name is Cade Emory Terada. I’m a Japanese American and I am a former United States Arctic Youth Ambassador from the number one fishing port by volume in the nation; every fish sandwich at McDonalds in the world (except New Zealand and Australia) came from my hometown. I served as one of 22 US Arctic youth that educated the American, as well as national, public on Arctic issues that pertain to climate change. I have spoken at numerous events across the country, one of which was the largest Earth Day event in the world in Dallas, Texas. I've also gone on an expedition to the Arctic and have seen many communities in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland that are being heavily impacted by climate change.

A people delegation should be supported because we as Americans have already had our voices silenced by our current administration and we need grassroots action to be taken. We cannot sit around and do nothing while homes continue to fall into the ocean due to rising sea levels and intense weather storms displace many innocent Americans from their homes. However, we cannot do this without your help. We need the help of Americans from all over to support a people led delegation so that all voices may be heard when making decisions of this grand scale.

With all of that being said, I'll be attending COP 23 in Bonn, Germany to represent my community as well as the circumpolar Arctic.  I’ll bring the perspective of an Arctic youth, as well as someone who recognizes the correlation between a healthy environment and a sustainable economy.  I want politicians and the rest of the world to know that their seafood, as well as the jobs affiliated with that resource, will cease to exist if action is not taken. All too often we see politicians tout about how jobs will be created, in this case though, jobs will be lost as the fishing industry is the number one producer of jobs in Alaska.  Again, I've contributed to climate action in my community by telling my story wherever I go and will continue to do so in Germany.

I wish to see more indigenous voices brought to the table.  Throughout my many years as an activist, I've watched indigenous and native peoples have their voices silenced and cut out because "they don't know enough". However, from my observations, I've noticed that indigenous communities are often the ones being most heavily impacted by climate change and the other issues that follow. In order to create proper and successful change, you must bring the voice that will be impacted the most to the table, otherwise it's basically colonialism; an important topic that I will bring to the table in Germany.