An appeal to the American people amid Super Typhoon Goni

On the United States' election day, 14-year-old Marshall Cedric Tuazon of typhoon-hit Philippines hopes Americans will spare a thought for him and millions of others at growing risk from extreme weather and rising seas.

typhoon goni philippines
Residents take shelter inside modular tents at an elementary school in Tondo, Manila on Monday, 2 November 2020. Thousands of families living in flood-prone and coastal areas were forced evacuated due to super typhoon Rolly, international name Goni. Image: Greenpeace/ Basilio Sepe

Dear Americans,

I write to you from amidst Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni), one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, which has displaced more than 400,000 fellow Filipinos and killed at least 16 people.

The world has been facing the impacts of climate change for many years now, and these impacts just keep on getting worse. I’ve always wondered what we, as citizens, can do to further advance climate action. 

I used to join the youth climate strikes in the streets but have to stop because of the pandemic. Being locked-down at home for months, I’ve spent hours online reading and listening to news from around the world. There’s been a lot of buzz about the US election and I’ve learned a great deal about how groups and activists are preparing for it.

From the hodgepodge of information I’ve seen, one of the things I thought would make a huge difference is if American citizens will vote conscientiously.

The next person to be elected into office will have a big role to play in addressing global crises such as the climate breakdown and the Covid-19 pandemic. It is crucial that before going out to vote, people have carefully studied each candidate’s platform and what they promise to do to help lessen the effects of climate change and pursue a recovery plan that values peoples’ and the planet’s well-being first. 

Go out and cast your ballots with the lives of the future generations – and people in vulnerable countries like us in the Philippines – in mind.

In Asia, we are living the realities of climate change right now. It must have been the same for you, as I’ve read about Hurricane Zeta that has ripped through the United States.

I am only 14 years old and have already witnessed terrible typhoons. Typhoons this strong definitely have been compounded by the climate breakdown.

I am scared. And so are countless other children here. I fear and worry that typhoon after typhoon, we are robbed of a bright future by big corporations and politicians who only value money and endless growth for their businesses. But it is also because of that fear that we must all unite and continue the fight for climate action. We have to reclaim our future.

You might be wondering why someone like me who lives oceans away from the United States would be concerned with US elections. I learned from school that everything is related including our atmosphere so it doesn’t matter if I am in the Philippines. Everything is connected on this planet that we call home.

If you are an American citizen and can’t join protests for climate action, or can’t directly support groups that fight for climate justice, the one important thing you can do, if you are of age, is to vote.

Go out and cast your ballots with the lives of the future generations – and people in vulnerable countries like us in the Philippines – in mind. If you cannot vote, then spread the word. Tell your friends and family to think about what the candidates promise to do to fix the climate. Talk to them about why they need to vote, and why they need to vote for the candidate that has real climate action in their plan.

I know this year has been tough for everyone but we cannot give up. If I, a 14-year-old Filipino, can speak up about why we need to take climate action now and appeal to Americans to vote for a country leader who wants bold climate action, then you, too can take action in so many ways.

I will continue to fight for my future and for climate justice from where I live, because I refuse to let anyone rob me and my fellow youth of our right to live a decent life. 

We need leaders who listen to scientists and act with urgency. Science tells us that global emissions have to fall by half in a decade if we want to leave this planet healthy and habitable. And that means transforming our energy system away from dirty fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy.

So we need to act faster now. Or else we won’t have a place to call home anymore.

Marshall Cedric Tuazon is a 14-year old Filipino climate striker living in Quezon City, Philippines.

This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate.

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