[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction
[00:00:00] Overdub: Hello and welcome to season two of The Story of Woman. In today’s world, it can feel like change is happening, but only in the wrong direction. While we agree there’s still a lot of work to do, we’re reframing that story.
[00:00:17] Overdub: I’m your host, Anna Stoecklein and each episode of this season I’ll be exploring how women make change happen from those at the top helping to drive it. We’ll look at where we are on this long march to equality, what lies ahead, and how important you are in the fight.
[00:00:38] Overdub: This isn’t a story of a world that’s doomed to oppress women forever. This is a story of an opportunity to grow stronger than ever before. Exactly as womankind has always done.
[00:00:50] Section: Episode level introduction
[00:00:52] Anna Stoecklein: Hello and welcome back. Thank you as always for being here.
[00:00:58] Anna Stoecklein: We've got an [00:01:00] incredibly urgent topic to cover today, the climate crisis. And I am speaking with Xiye Bastida about it, who is one of the leaders of the climate movement and specifically the youth movement. She's 21 now, but started this work when she was like 14, 15 years old, which is just so incredible and really goes to show what young people have to deal with today. You know, she's talked about how instead of playing sports or doing theater or doing these hobbies that she might have been into, she's instead been organizing protests and speaking at global conferences.
[00:01:39] Anna Stoecklein: And the climate crisis is unique in that the younger you are, the more you'll be affected by it. And it's just so hard for the rest of us to imagine what it's like growing up in this world with the knowledge of the climate crisis looming and getting more urgent by the minute when us in the older generations [00:02:00] didn't have to think about these kinds of things growing up.
[00:02:03] Anna Stoecklein: So it really is absolutely crucial that the youth have a leading role in this movement, and it's incredible to see that they do, and that Xiye is absolutely one of the leaders within that youth movement.
[00:02:19] Anna Stoecklein: She's also a leader in the climate justice space. She lives in New York now, but she grew up in the Otomi-Toltec indigenous community in Central Mexico. So she's always been driven to make the climate movement more inclusive and diverse. And also to advocate for the indigenous wisdom and practices that can help drive the change that we need.
[00:02:39] Anna Stoecklein: After Xiye had moved to New York in 2015, she became heavily involved in the existing climate movement. And she attended her first United Nations Climate Conference in February of 2017 where she brought indigenous knowledge into decision making spaces, and her participation led her to win the spirit of the UN Award in 2018.
[00:02:59] Anna Stoecklein: Later, she [00:03:00] started organizing with Friday's for Future NYC, which she became one of the lead organizers for. And the biggest strike Xiye was involved in organizing brought together 300,000 people to the streets of New York, in April of 2020, Xiye co-founded the Re-earth Initiative, which is an international youth-led organization that focuses on highlighting the intersectionality of the climate crisis.
[00:03:23] Anna Stoecklein: Her notable participations list is long and includes COP 25, 26 and 27, the United Nations Climate Summit, the Nobel Prize Summit, Global Citizens, Glamor Women of the Year Awards, Ted Countdown Summit, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Harvard University, and Verge 21.
[00:03:44] Anna Stoecklein: She gave her first TED Talk in 2020 and is on the TED Youth Advisory Council. She was invited as the only speaker at the Biden Climate Summit in 2021 where she spoke to 40 heads of state. She is the [00:04:00] opening essayist of the anthology All We Can Save and has written numerous op-eds, of which I can't read them all out because there are just too many. So check out her website to see some of the incredible pieces that she's written.
[00:04:14] Anna Stoecklein: She's currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania where she's studying environmental studies with a concentration in policy. I mean, didn't we all do all of these things by the time we were 21 years old? It's just absolutely incredible.
[00:04:30] Anna Stoecklein: In our conversation today, we talk about what it was like growing up in Mexico, the types of things that she saw firsthand in regards to the changing climate, how she came to be this impressive global leader. We talk about climate justice activism and the wisdom we can all draw from her and other indigenous communities. And we talk about the future and where Xiye says we need to be in 10 years.
[00:04:56] Anna Stoecklein: Throughout our whole conversation, I was continuously amazed by Xiye's [00:05:00] storytelling skills. It's like, every answer has this beautiful, beginning, middle, and end, and she really breaks down these complex narratives in accessible and very insightful ways. I honestly never knew a 21 year old could be so wise, not just smart, but wise. I think you'll, you'll understand what I mean really soon. So I think we are going to see some really big things from Xiye in the future, which is great because the planet really needs it and really needs more people like her.
[00:05:37] Anna Stoecklein: So I hope this conversation leaves you inspired to take action and join in the movement to save the earth and humanity. But for now, before we get to that, please enjoy my conversation with Xiye Bastida.
[00:05:55] Section: Episode
[00:05:55] Anna Stoecklein: Hi, Xiye. Welcome, thanks so much for being here with me today.
[00:05:59] Xiye Bastida: Thank you for [00:06:00] having me. I'm so excited.
[00:06:01] Anna Stoecklein: I am as well. You've got quite the story in you're just a couple decades of life and I'm really excited to get into it all. And I really wanna start with your story and how you came to be this global leader of the climate crisis at the age of 15 or so. So can you tell us a bit about growing up in Mexico and what were some of the influences and circumstances that led you to the current path that you're on?
[00:06:27] Xiye Bastida: So I was born and raised in central Mexico in a small town called San Pedro Tultepec, which is situated about 40 minutes west from Mexico City. We're in between two of the biggest cities in Mexico, Mexico City and Toluca.
[00:06:41] Xiye Bastida: And what that means is that even though my town is for me kind of this sanctuary for nature, we have a beautiful lagoon with just so much diversity. And we used to have a beautiful, beautiful river. It also became a source for the [00:07:00] extractivism of Mexico City, meaning they have been taking our water for 80 years to develop the city.
[00:07:07] Xiye Bastida: They have been using our waters as place for waste from factories. There's a lot of things that made my town the recipient of a lot of extraction and pollution contamination. I grew up with this very specific philosophy of the world that my parents taught me. My dad is Otomi, which is an indigenous group in Mexico.
[00:07:33] Xiye Bastida: For many, many years, indigenous peoples and still today, have been persecuted, discriminated against in Mexico. And my dad was really the one who said, in my family, I wanna reclaim my culture, I wanna reclaim my language, I wanna reclaim our ways of life. He was the first one in my uncle's generations to relearn the language, and that's why I have an Otomi name, Xiye. And it's just so beautiful cuz all my cousins do, all of the [00:08:00] uncles took that tradition again. We took it back from having like a Spanish last name for example.
[00:08:06] Xiye Bastida: And that is the legacy that he wanted to bring to us, to me and my brother, is that legacy of being proud of who you are, of your culture. And in indigenous cosmology, that culture is really about being connected with nature, being one with your immediate environment, being respectful of your environment, having that principle of reciprocity, knowing that everything that we take must be given back. It's this circularity that we operate with.
[00:08:36] Xiye Bastida: Obviously that is a very idealized version of what the world is today, and I don't think I really noticed how disconnected we were until I started growing up and seeing, how come we have our beautiful lagoon here and the water that's coming in through our river is one of the most contaminated dead zones that we have in the country.[00:09:00]
[00:09:00] Xiye Bastida: Things didn't really add up and I started noticing that there was a very big distinction between what my parents taught me the world should be and what it actually was. I called that the first layer of the climate crisis, the extractivism industries, the targeted pollution, how small communities with no political power are usually targeted by industries.
[00:09:21] Xiye Bastida: And then the second layer of the climate crisis is the climate disasters. So my town suffered from heavy flooding and it has suffered from drought. Not only my town obviously, but Mexico as a whole, experienced the harshest drought in 70 years around the 2010s. And we felt that, and the country as a whole felt that, me and my town, we felt that. Our crops wearing growing, the soil was dry, it was eroding.
[00:09:46] Xiye Bastida: And then when flooding comes with weak soil, it causes a lot of environmental damage, economic damage, social damage. And the worst part was that that water actually had [00:10:00] pollution from the river that over spilled. So it is just this mix and a lot of climate academics call it the perfect storm. So it's the mixture of pollution, of climate disasters, and also a weak structure that isn't able to respond.
[00:10:15] Xiye Bastida: That happened when I was 13, in 2015. And it really shocked me in a way that I think a lot of people in my generation are coming to terms with the fact that we are seeing the effects of the climate crisis. It's not something theoretical anymore. It's not something that's happening in the North Pole. It's not that our kids, our grandkids are gonna see it.
[00:10:37] Xiye Bastida: It's something that's material and these events are filling us with experience. I moved to New York City actually the day after the flood, not because of the flood, but because my parents already had a job lined up in New York. We had our visas, we had everything to go. But I did leave my town knowing that I didn't know how it was going to come [00:11:00] back from the flood.
[00:11:01] Xiye Bastida: I didn't know how we were going to come back from that very, very harsh event that happened. Obviously it's a whole other conversation, but moving to a new city, to a different country, a language you don't know, I couldn't speak or read English, that was very shocking as well.
[00:11:19] Xiye Bastida: But some of the things that shocked me the most about New York City were all of the facts about environmental racism, and all of the facts about school segregation and how New York has the most segregated school system. I went to a school in Harlem that was 99% black and Hispanic. And because of the racial makeup of the school, we didn't have good teachers. I didn't have a science teacher for four months.
[00:11:42] Xiye Bastida: Kids didn't really care about school. I thought that was the American system, and I didn't really feel like it was fair for kids who lived in one of the richest cities in the world to experience such low qualities of education. I went to high school afterwards and I [00:12:00] saw such a big difference cause I went to high school more downtown.
[00:12:03] Xiye Bastida: I realized that transition period really slowed me down in what I thought was important, which was the protection of communities, which was this aspect that the climate crisis and environmentalism isn't this green thing where you go to a park and enjoy nature. It's really about the injustices that the climate crisis represents, the targeting of communities.
[00:12:25] Xiye Bastida: In the Bronx, 17% of adults have asthma, which is 10% higher than the national average. And it's because people live in marginalized communities that are targeted by pollution. I started putting all of these thoughts together and realized that the climate crisis does manifest in every single place in the world in different magnitudes.
[00:12:44] Xiye Bastida: And that the injustice aspect of it was the thread that united a lot of the experiences that I saw in Mexico and in New York. That is a very long way to say I kind of woke up and you know when you are young and they tell you, wait [00:13:00] until you see the real world. I thought I saw the real world finally, and I didn't like the real world.
[00:13:05] Xiye Bastida: I didn't like the injustice. I didn't like, you know, that something so much better was possible, and we weren't fighting for that. We were instead subsidizing fossil fuels. We were subsidizing the industry that has taken so much. Subsidizing the destruction of nature, the contamination of our aquifers and our air and our water. And I decided that I couldn't let that happen.
[00:13:28] Xiye Bastida: Not only because of the principles that I grew up with, but also because of the legacy that I wanted to have. And my parents actually met at the first ever Earth Summit in 1992. So they have been climate activists since they were in their twenties. They met through a climate conference. I feel like I am the extended legacy of what my parents have been working for their entire lives. So really it's a no-brainer that I am so involved in the climate movement and I want it to be successful because we have no other option.
[00:13:59] Anna Stoecklein: [00:14:00] It's such an incredible story. You're a legacy from your parents and also from the elders in your community, which I wannatalk about the wisdom and the knowledge that they have passed along.
[00:14:09] Anna Stoecklein: But you talk about having to wake up and I just think that's so kind of ironic given the age that you were, you know, your generation has had to wake up a lot earlier. Everybody else is just waking up now, in whatever decade they're currently in, and you've had it your whole life.
[00:14:27] Anna Stoecklein: So I wanna talk about indigenous wisdom. I wanna talk about being a youth in this moment. But first, I just wanna take a step back real quick. I think you're so good at explaining and telling stories, and I really wanna have you set the scene for us about the current problem. You know, I think it can feel quite complicated to people who aren't in the weeds of this every day, you know, talking about carbon emissions and sea levels and how many years until it's too late. So I'm wondering if you can give us an overview of what the reality of the situation [00:15:00] is. And also you've started talking about this a bit already, but trying to understand how we got here, how did it get so bad? And then we can get into solutions.
[00:15:10] Xiye Bastida: So the reality of the climate crisis is really bad. I am at Lynn University right now. I am studying environmental studies, and the focus of the classes that I'm taking are on climate science, are on geology, energy, and environmental systems. All of the things that make me understand the climate crisis at a deep level. One of my professor is Michael Mann, who won the Tyler Prize because of his science on the climate crisis.
[00:15:38] Xiye Bastida: So I would say that when people tell youth, you know, go to school, learn some of the things. We are in school. We are learning all of the climate science, and every single day I learn how bad our position is. The records for warming, we're breaking the records every single year. We have the highest average temperature on record almost every [00:16:00] year.
[00:16:00] Xiye Bastida: Our oceans, which are actually the best indicator for warming are breaking records every single year. Our glaciers are melting. We're losing a lot of species. We're in the sixth mass extinction. The amount of pollution that we are generating, we're burning more carbon. We're not decreasing our carbon emissions as we should.
[00:16:19] Xiye Bastida: All of these things that are going on in the larger climate earth system are all taking us towards a world of more than three degrees of warming. Right now, we are at about 1.2 degrees of warming, and we're already seeing how hurricanes are becoming more intense. Flooding events are becoming more intense. Wildfires are becoming more intense.
[00:16:45] Xiye Bastida: The season is longer. Sometimes the season is year round in parts of California. Just to give a quick visualization of the climate crisis in California, the dryness makes the land a lot easier to [00:17:00] burn. So when it burns and you take all of the vegetation away, all of the nutrients away, if it rains a lot, which rain is becoming more prominent because with more heat we're evaporating more water, so the rain events are stronger. If there's no vegetation to hold the soil in place, we have landslides, and that's what happened in California recently.
[00:17:20] Xiye Bastida: So you have this mixture where all weather events are becoming more extreme, which is gonna cause massive disruptions to all of our ecosystems, all of our infrastructure. We're seeing record cold as well, which is part of the climate crisis. We see records in every single part of the climate system. When you see all of this and know that this is 1.2 degrees of warming, imagine where we would be at two degrees of warming, at three degrees of warming. If we don't stop our emissions by 2070, 16% of the world could be uninhabitable because of how hot the land is gonna be.
[00:17:58] Xiye Bastida: That was as studied done by [00:18:00] the New York Times. That future scares me. That's not a future that I wanna live in. If we know all of these things, which actually Exxon predicted with 99% accuracy, we are heading into a world where I wouldn't like to bring my kids to.
[00:18:16] Xiye Bastida: People ask me all the time, what would you do if we weren't a climate crisis? We could be ourselves, we could do whatever we wanted to do. We could be more creative in different areas, and right now we are faced with the harshest problem that humanity has ever faced.
[00:18:32] Xiye Bastida: For me, it's also one of the biggest opportunities that we have to question how we got here, and the simple answer is always burning of fossil fuels. When we look at solutions and we have really fancy geo-engineering solutions, it's easier to just stop burning fossil fuels. And the industry has had a hold on the political system for so long. When oil prices are high, actually candidates are more likely to lose [00:19:00] elections. It's so embedded into the way that we operate.
[00:19:05] Xiye Bastida: And for example, having a car in the US is such a staple of independence. What does a world look like where you don't have a car, where you find other sources of learning about yourself? What do cities without cars look like? I dunno how to drive. I don't have a license because I don't wanna have a car.
[00:19:23] Xiye Bastida: I wanna force myself to live in cities that are connected by public transportation. So all of this to say the climate crisis, it's easy to ignore it, especially when you're listening or hearing about it, learning about it every single day. But it is even harder to ignore when you are not in the climate movement.
[00:19:43] Xiye Bastida: But this is a reminder to always, always remember that every decision that we make, every fraction by degree that we're able to stay under is the difference between stability in the future or not. And I take that very seriously. And it's not just because of where I [00:20:00] come from and what I learn and what my philosophies are, it's because that is a state of the world.
[00:20:05] Xiye Bastida: So, you know, I consider myself a climate optimist, a stubborn optimist, which means I'm not seeing this threat as something that is gonna hold me down. I'm seeing this threat as a jumping point to really restructure the way that the planet has worked so that it stops being an extractivist economy that hurts people.
[00:20:25] Anna Stoecklein: That's an incredible way to reframe it. Seeing it as urgent, but also an opportunity to restructure and rebuild everything that's not working. Let's talk about how we do that then. How we do restructure. A lot of your work is grounded in climate justice, so I'd love to have you define that for us and talk about what that looks like in practice and give us some examples if you have some.
[00:20:51] Xiye Bastida: So climate justice for me is very important because if you think of the climate movement for the past 50, it has been governed [00:21:00] by mostly environmental organizations that focus mostly on ecosystem protection, that focus more on securing things like the Clean Water Act. Things that are more about just the environment, specifically.
[00:21:14] Xiye Bastida: Climate Justice recognizes that the climate crisis also puts people in danger, specifically marginalized communities, indigenous communities, people of color. So when we think of fixing the climate crisis, we not only have to think about how do we decrease the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, we have to think about how are we touching and bettering the lives of the people that have been historically targeted by pollution, by extractivism.
[00:21:41] Xiye Bastida: And that not only applies for the national sense, for example, in the United States, pipelines usually run through indigenous land. Where do we find water being contaminated? Where do we find cancer alley in Louisiana?
[00:21:57] Xiye Bastida: All of these things also happen at the global [00:22:00] level. So, people in the global south are experiencing the climate crisis at much harder magnitudes. When we go to climate conferences, my friends from the global south are talking about the experiences that they had with heat waves, with typhoons, with flooding, and my friends from the global North are usually theoretically talking about these things or talking about the heat wave that hit Europe, but it's nothing compared to the fact that if you live in Delhi, you have to actually stay inside because of how bad air pollution can get. People in Delhi have been wearing masks way before the pandemic because of pollution.
[00:22:35] Xiye Bastida: And so, when we think of the new world, I don't wanna put a green stamp on everything, so I don't wanna say everybody switched to electric vehicles because it's better for the environment and because it's gonna reduce CO2 emissions. I wanna say, actually put that money into public transportation so that we don't have to rely on lithium mining, which is actually gonna hurt a lot of people in the global south.
[00:22:57] Xiye Bastida: And that is the big difference [00:23:00] between going through an environmentalism path that mostly focuses on nature versus a green capitalism path that only follows on making things green versus a truly imaginative, restorative, and challenging way of restructuring the system so that it actually makes the future different.
[00:23:24] Xiye Bastida: When we talk about the cost of everything, companies, the private sector, they care about how expensive things are. There's something called ecosystem services. How much does this river help me in filtering water so that I don't have to build a water treatment system? There's billions and billions of dollars that ecosystems are valued at if you look at it through money. And all of these are always not considered.
[00:23:52] Xiye Bastida: We're always talking about how do we make the economy strong, but we actually pay the polluters [00:24:00] and the industries that are already destroying. So we have to change that. I don't know how that's gonna work. I don't know how we're gonna get to that other side. What I do know is that the system that we have lived in is very short and that we are extremely creative, imaginative, smart. And if we put our hands in our heart, I think we can actually get to a better place.
[00:24:23] Xiye Bastida: And you can't do that without a climate justice framework. So that's the biggest point that not only I wanna drive through, but I think my generation is really conscious of that. You cannot talk about the climate movement without talking about gender and race and indigenous background. I think that has been the biggest shift in the environmental movement in the last century, talking about climate justice.
[00:24:46] Anna Stoecklein: Fantastic.
[00:24:48] Anna Stoecklein: So let's talk about some of that indigenous wisdom. So you've written that human civilization needs to make drastic changes in its values system, that it needs to [00:25:00] mature, and that there are guidelines and principles from the elders of indigenous communities that humanity really needs right now. So I'd love to hear about some of the principles and the knowledge that you see as most essential for addressing the climate crisis.
[00:25:14] Xiye Bastida: I always talk about reciprocity first because I think it's one of the principles that most illustrates the relationship that has been severed because we have been taking, and taking and taking not only from mother Earth, but also from each other without considering the repercussions.
[00:25:31] Xiye Bastida: Reciprocity is about giving back, but I think it's not only about giving back the same amount, but we're guests on this planet. When you're a guest, some. You actually behave better than you do at home. So I think we have to think of ourselves not only as living in this planet, we're so lucky to be here, and we have to treat our planet with more respect than we would because of all of the things that Mother Earth does for us. So I [00:26:00] think that's the first principle, reciprocity.
[00:26:01] Xiye Bastida: The second one is intergenerational cooperation. We are right now operating in a way where there's actually fights among generations. Gen Z, Millennials, Boomers, we have all of these generational divides that actually hurt us a lot because Gen Z, for example, I would say we're the most mobilized, but we have the least access to infrastructure and resources and institutions.
[00:26:25] Xiye Bastida: So we will not change anything if we don't build bridges with generations that have the economic power, the political power, the institutional power. And this is modeled in very small scales in indigenous communities. We have youth and elder circles where elders teach us about lessons of life, principles, stories, wisdom. And I think the reason why elders are so wise is because they talk to youth. It's because we are the closest to the beginning of life and we are kind of naive when we are so close to the beginning [00:27:00] of life. When we give that purity through conversations with elders, I think they're able to grab the wisdom from that and add everything that they know so that it becomes knowledge. We are missing that so much in our current way of living.
[00:27:14] Xiye Bastida: The second part of intergenerational cooperation is also the awareness that we are all connected to seven generations around us. There's a very famous indigenous principle that says, every decision that you make has to be informed by the wisdom of the past generations, but also to ensure the stability of the future seven generations.
[00:27:34] Xiye Bastida: But most people don't realize that you are actually in the middle of that seven generation circle as well, because you can know your grandmother, your mother, your self, your child and your grandchild. Just in your lifetime, you will know seven generations. It's not that far away as we think it is. And so that for me is one of the strongest principles that we have because we are thinking in a very short [00:28:00] frame.
[00:28:00] Xiye Bastida: Right now, our elections are very short-lived, so politicians are only thinking about the next year, the next two years, the next four years. We don't have policies that are generationally sensitive. But I think that encompasses the most important principles that I think indigenous people hold.
[00:28:19] Xiye Bastida: And I think the last would be, you know, the first thing that you will hear from an indigenous person is this is who I am and this is where I'm from. And I think that knowing those two things is the most important thing that a person can hold. If you know who you are and you know where you're from, you know what you must protect. It is a mistake to think that the world is on our shoulders. It is a mistake to think that we are fighting for every corner of the world.
[00:28:45] Xiye Bastida: When if every person took care of their corner of the world, we would come out of this crisis a lot faster. Because it is about community care, it is about cooperation and not competition. It's about collective, not individualism. So I would say that's probably one of [00:29:00] the strongest principals as well, community care, which is something that is not celebrated, especially in Western cultures, where from the moment that you go to elementary school, you're already competing with other kids for spots. I don't think a kid should be competing for a good education. A kid shouldn't be competing for good access to services, good access to sports, good access to art. It should all be part of how society works so that we support each other.
[00:29:31] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. It should be, but it feels like we're so far away from a culture that embodies, that imbues everything that you've just described. So I'm wondering how you see the process of getting there. You know, we have the policies that need to change, innovation, industries to get rid of, but what about the culture that we need to adapt? How do you see that transition happening?
[00:29:57] Xiye Bastida: I think the only way in which we can change culture is through [00:30:00] changing narrative, and the only way to change narrative is through storytelling. We are not talking to each other enough. People don't think that other people care about the climate crisis. We don't know the stories of the millions of people affected by climate disasters every year.
[00:30:15] Xiye Bastida: We only know the statistics. And statistics don't touch people. Stories do. That is why I always make it a point to ask somebody what their climate story is, even if they have never thought of it that way. Because when you start making the connections yourself about the fact that you do have a climate story, inevitably you wanna become part of the solution because you know you have been affected.
[00:30:36] Xiye Bastida: And for example, my professor in one of my classes, she runs a climate story project where she asks all of us to write a our climate story. And she also takes this program to different high schools across Philadelphia. And she has said that giving people the ability, and the instruction to think, to do the mental work, to think of the climate story [00:31:00] actually fills us with so much agency because when you realize you've been affected by something, your mind starts making all of the connections of how do we get out of this?
[00:31:08] Xiye Bastida: That is the only way we're gonna get to that cultural shift, when we all see ourselves as truly having been affected by the climate crisis. Because all of a sudden, Exxon is not just this company that you go to fill up your tank. Exxon is the company that has been lying to you for 50 years and fueling climate misinformation. They're not neutral. They actually have a lot of power, and we have power too.
[00:31:32] Xiye Bastida: So I think that is the only way in which that cultural shift is gonna happen. And it is a mistake to think that we're the first people to go, undergo a cultural shift. That the common movement is the first one doing many of these things.
[00:31:45] Xiye Bastida: One of the things that has helped me the most in organizing protests in organizing direct actions, is knowing that I can pick up a history book and see all of the movements that have done the same, from the Civil Rights Movement to Women's Rights, [00:32:00] all of the movements that we have, like just in the US, you don't even have to go to other parts of the world, have already used tactics in media, tactics in the arts, tactics in lobbying politically and suing governments and suing companies to get to the other side.
[00:32:16] Xiye Bastida: And when there's a cultural shift happening, you see it reflected everywhere. You see it reflected in fashion. You see it reflected in curriculum. You see it reflected in music. And that is starting to happen in the climate movement.
[00:32:30] Xiye Bastida: Right now my computer is on a bunch of books, they're all climate books. That's me. But all my classes are climate, and that's obviously cuz I chose them. But the fact that I can fill out my entire schedule with just classes on environmental ethics, on geology, on global climate change, on the physics of global warming, the shift is starting to happen.
[00:32:52] Xiye Bastida: I think we are at that point where it's the hardest to cross and then it all kind of cascades over. So that's, for me, fills me [00:33:00] with a lot of energy. What I will say, climate deniers are a big part of the conversation, and they're a tiny percentage. I think less than 10% of the people in the United States think the climate crisis isn't real, but they're one of the most vocal people. So it is not our job to convince everybody that the climate crisis is real.
[00:33:20] Xiye Bastida: It is actually more effective to deepen the understanding of the people who know it's real, so that they know all of the things that it interacts with. So they know that it is a multisectoral issue that touches everything from architecture to physics to food that we eat and the clothes that we wear. And when you put it in that way and the people who care start learning about the intersections of the climate crisis and those climate solutions, I think that's when we become truly power. That's how I see it.
[00:33:52] Anna Stoecklein: That's beautiful. And I think also probably music to people's ears that we don't need to go in arguing with climate deniers, [00:34:00] we can focus on ourselves, educating ourselves, learning and telling our climate story. I really like thinking about it that way as well. And something else that may help ease people's anxieties a bit without removing the responsibility, cuz this is still very important, I'm wondering if you can talk about the collective versus the individual. There's also that shift that needs to happen, going away from blaming the individual consumer and looking more at collective action. So can you talk about that?
[00:34:32] Xiye Bastida: It is a marketing strategy to make you believe that you are the responsible of the climate crisis. Companies want you to think that because you didn't recycle, it's your fault. They want you to think that because you didn't bring your own back to the grocery store, you're part of the problem. These things are important on, I guess an individual consciousness level, but when it comes to the macro systems, we are not [00:35:00] responsible of the oil spill that cost BP almost 70 billion to clean up.
[00:35:06] Xiye Bastida: I'm in Philly right now, there's a refinery that blew up. We're not responsible for the chemicals and the lack of regulations that allow that to happen. And so I think that once we get out of that mindset, we only need to focus on individual actions to be part of the solution. When we realize that we have more power when we tackle systems and when we tackle legislation, that is gonna change a lot more than recycling your own water bottle is gonna do, that is really when we start building something important.
[00:35:37] Xiye Bastida: And I think structural change makes individual actions a lot easier. For example, in New York City, I lobbied for the city to ban plastic bags in every deli and store in New York or like to charge, if people wanted a plastic bag. That is a lot easier than me going around and telling everybody, don't forget to bring your own back to [00:36:00] the grocery store.
[00:36:00] Xiye Bastida: It took me way less effort to go and lobby at City Hall for that to happen. And that's I think, the mindset that we need to have. What institutions am I part of that I can change so that individual action becomes a no-brainer. And there's a lot of guilt that comes into buying a new coffee with a plastic cup.
[00:36:20] Xiye Bastida: All of those things, they are such a distraction from the bigger issue. Even flying, for example, flying is 3% of global emissions. The fashion industry is 10%. Just burning fossil fuels, obviously, electricity de generation makes such a big percentage. If we put more effort into an energy transition than we put into blaming people for taking a flight, we're actually going to get a lot further in our targets and goals.
[00:36:45] Xiye Bastida: And that was kind of a relief for me as well, to realize that most of the power can be concentrated and we are better at the movement when we don't point fingers at each other, but we're actually [00:37:00] questioning BP, why they created the concept of a carbon footprint, when in reality we should be asking them, how much oil have you spilled?
[00:37:09] Xiye Bastida: And when you shift that, ugh, it's just amazing. Because again, the fossil fuel industry is getting subsidies to destroy the planet. And when you see it that way, we are now getting subsidies to better the planet. But it has taken decades for that to happen. Collective action, structural change is much more powerful than individualism and blaming yourself.
[00:37:36] Anna Stoecklein: That's such a wonderful way to reframe it. And for you to really zoom out for us so we can all understand how we fit and what we can better spend our energy on is so important and it's a really important narrative that you're leading on. So it's great.
[00:37:53] Anna Stoecklein: Something else I wanted to make sure to talk about is women and gender. And we've talked a bit about how [00:38:00] marginalized groups are most impacted, and it's pretty well known by now that the climate crisis is not gender neutral, but I'd love to hear your take on it, how you think of gender in the context of the climate crisis.
[00:38:12] Xiye Bastida: So when we talk about gender in the climate crisis, people usually say the most affected in climate disasters are women. Or when you have a drought, women have to, for example, in countries where people have to walk to get water, women have to walk longer distances. It puts them at greater risk of assault.
[00:38:32] Xiye Bastida: All these social issues that have to do with a climate crisis and women are usually highlighted. But I always like to point at something much more deeper in the philosophy of the world that has to do with masculinity and the patriarchy. The way in which our international relations system is structured is around realism.
[00:38:56] Xiye Bastida: Realism, when you go to an international relations class, that's the [00:39:00] first thing they teach you, is that concept that what countries and states should aim for is money and power, and that it is okay to go to war to get that power.
[00:39:11] Xiye Bastida: In Morgenthau's Six Principles of Political Realism, he states, emotions cannot be allowed into decision making. He states, we shouldn't care about hurting other people when it comes to securing our national interest. And there is a response, a feminist response to Morgenthau's Principles of Political Realism that say, actually we do need to think about what we are doing to people. Emotions are an important part of our humanity. We're not listening to our emotions. It will turn into violence. And when we have a system that is aware of the repercussions that it has in people, we become a lot better at making decisions. And that's why for me, eco feminism in the way in which we see the world, is one of [00:40:00] the most important things that we have to implement into our policy internationally.
[00:40:05] Xiye Bastida: We have heard time and time again that women shouldn't be all of these horrible things that people say about women that we're not good at making decisions because we're emotional, da, da, da. But that femininity and that caring is part of our humanity. So I think that when we make decisions through that lens of caring, that is the only way in which the world is gonna change.
[00:40:27] Xiye Bastida: For the realists, we live in a system, in a global system, of anarchy because there is no leader of world countries. And in a system of anarchy, everybody goes to war with each other. That is the world that we build on paper. That is the world that we're operating under, and nothing is gonna change unless we change our perception of what our relationship with each other is.
[00:40:50] Xiye Bastida: Once we all know that we come from somewhere local, but we're also global citizen. That duality of belonging, not only to your birthplace, but also [00:41:00] to the planet. It is the only way in which we are going to be able to not go to war over resources or war over who has access to what.
[00:41:11] Xiye Bastida: So when we think about gender, obviously the social impacts of the climate crisis are super important. But we also have to think about the way that the world has been structured, which is through a patriarchal lens that makes certain decisions easier than others, and those decisions usually sideline the environment, women, children, our future, and a security that goes beyond military power, and it's actually about sustainability and sustenance.
[00:41:39] Anna Stoecklein: Speaking of children and the future, I wanna talk about your generation as well. This is such a unique fight because the younger you are, the more you'll be impacted, right? It's been absolutely extraordinary to see young people rising up and telling all the adults in charge everything that [00:42:00] they're getting wrong and becoming leaders themselves, giving talks, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people, which you have done at the age of like 17 years old, or 16, 15.
[00:42:11] Anna Stoecklein: It's so inspiring to see, but, as you alluded to in the beginning, it's got to be so hard to be a kid with literally the weight of the world on your shoulders. So I'd love to know, for those of us not in your generation, what it's like to grow up in this world with this knowledge of the climate crisis and seeing it get more urgent every year?
[00:42:38] Xiye Bastida: I think it's really, really hard to understand how a kid must be feeling, and I know that I see the climate crisis as something that is gonna have significant impacts on my life and has already had significant impacts on my life. And even I am more lucky that somebody who was born today, because I have 20 years of [00:43:00] advantage in how much less climate impact I'm gonna feel.
[00:43:04] Xiye Bastida: I think if adults were able to understand this, we would be in a different world, but we have an issue that most of our leaders are more than 60 years old and they will not be here when the worst impacts of the climate crisis hit. By 2050, I'm going to be 48 years old. My mom is 48, and I cannot imagine being my mom's age with two kids and living in a world where we have to worry about the next drought and worry about food insecurity, and worry about where water is gonna come from and what the tensions are gonna be.
[00:43:42] Xiye Bastida: I think most of the power, in the youth movement, does come from that generational injustice. It comes from not knowing all of the facts and not knowing all of the climate solutions, it comes about looking the 70 year old president in the eyes and saying, [00:44:00] what are you gonna do to ensure that I make it to your age? What are you gonna do to ensure that my kids make it to your age?
[00:44:06] Xiye Bastida: And I think that, you know, the emotional feelings that we as a generation have around the climate crisis are really overlooked. We talk a lot about climate anxiety. We talk a lot about climate grief, and what I get from that conversation is that we cannot grieve something that we don't love.
[00:44:25] Xiye Bastida: And if you have grief around the climate crisis is because of how deeply you love a stable world, which is a no brainer. We love Mother Earth. We love everything that Mother Earth has had to offer us, and we most of all fight for the ability to experience joy, for the ability to show my kids the place where I grew up in a way that is not massively unchanged.
[00:44:50] Xiye Bastida: I don't think adults are understanding this yet. I don't think they care about other than the economic, I don't think they see the worth in [00:45:00] thinking about their great grandchildren's future. But when they do, there are cases where grandkids or kids have told their oil CEO parents that they're ruining their future. And that is when things actually change the most. When we go back to the very basics, why am I wanting so much money? For my legacy. But what does money matter in a legacy in a planet that doesn't exist?
[00:45:27] Anna Stoecklein: Wow, that is a point right there.
[00:45:30] Xiye Bastida: So adults wake up.
[00:45:34] Xiye Bastida: That is a point right there for everyone listening, adults wake up. Is there anything else that you would like to say to the adults listening? I think we don't like when adults tell us, you're so inspiring, rather than actually being inspired to do something. Because it is very different, the feeling that I get, when somebody tells me, you're so right and inspiring and you [00:46:00] make me hopeful of the future, because they know I won't stop fighting.
[00:46:04] Xiye Bastida: But that feels like any burden that they felt, they put it on. Rather than saying, you're so inspiring, I'm going to start doing this. Every time you feel inspired, don't only think about the fact that you are lifted of burden. Think of the responsibility that you now have because you know how much it moves somebody else.
[00:46:25] Anna Stoecklein: Be inspired. Let's see you as inspiring. Be inspired.
[00:46:29] Xiye Bastida: Mm-hmm.
[00:46:30] Anna Stoecklein: Another great point. Okay, so on the topic of what all of us listening can do, you know, we've talked about collective action, we've talked about telling our climate story, talked about now listening to someone like yourself and don't just walk away feeling that you're inspiring, but actually be inspired to do something. What are some things that we can do? Say we understand the point you made about the collective action, but we don't even know where to start.
[00:46:57] Xiye Bastida: That is the hardest question that we always get, where do I [00:47:00] start? Because I wish there was a simple answer. I wish I could tell you go to a website where you could just have all the answers that you need. But the truth is that there is a beauty in the fact that nobody's gonna start in the same place.
[00:47:14] Xiye Bastida: For example, I know a documentary producer that had been working on documentaries on all topics from food to clothing, to biopics, like all of the different types of media that you could think of. And she watched the documentary Chasing Coral and she thought to herself, why are we bleaching all the coral in the world and acidifying the ocean? And why am I not doing something about the climate crisis in my own job?
[00:47:45] Xiye Bastida: So she made it the point of her career to only do climate documentaries. If I met her in the street, I couldn't tell her, this is where you start. And it's the same for somebody else that I met, that she was once on a boat and somebody [00:48:00] told her throwout the trash, and she said, where do I throw it out? And the person responded in the ocean. That's when she realized that you never really throw things away, you just move them out of your visual field, into the ocean or into a landfill.
[00:48:13] Xiye Bastida: When we start making these connections and when you have that point, that changes the way that you see the world. And then you say, how come I'm not part of the solution? That is where you start. If you're listening to this, you probably already care about the climate crisis. I think the question that we have to ask ourselves is, so where do I have influence and then how can I use that space to change things? I think we often underestimate the power that we have, the power that conviction and determination has, and the power that a voice has on a system that is yearning for people to have a passion. And the biggest passion that we can have in my opinion, is just being part of a legacy of building a better world.
[00:48:57] Anna Stoecklein: Amazing. There's that legacy [00:49:00] again, let's focus on that legacy. So I wanna ask what you hope will be most different in 10 years time, but maybe I'm also kind of curious to see what kind of world you can describe to us that would be more on track in 10 years time?
[00:49:16] Xiye Bastida: So, to meet our climate goals, we need to half our carbon emissions by 2030. That's kind of in 10 years. So I wanna see a world where we have half our carbon emissions, where we are on our way to a transition to a purely renewable grid, where we are prioritizing city planning and infrastructure that is resilient, making sure that buildings are well insulated so that we don't spend that much in heating and cooling, that instead of having heaters and AC, we have heat pumps.
[00:49:48] Xiye Bastida: I think there's very concrete things that we can think about. For people to really shift their understanding of climate through climate education. I think, and this is something that was implemented in [00:50:00] Argentina, every single worker that works for the federal government is required to undergo climate crisis course.
[00:50:06] Xiye Bastida: So what would it look like for every single person that works for the federal government to undergo a climate solutions training? There are so many things that are possible. What does it look like for our food systems to change, to be regenerative, to not rely on mono crops? What does it look like for fashion to not be trendy and be in microcycles, but to be long-lasting, to not use polyester in the making of clothes, to shift our diet to be less meat-based?
[00:50:40] Xiye Bastida: All of these things, they're all solutions that are possible. I recommend this documentary called 2040 that shows what the world can look like in 2040 if we implemented all of the existing climate solutions. Meaning that we don't have to wait for the big breakthrough solution to come through because we already have everything that we need.
[00:50:59] Xiye Bastida: So in 10 [00:51:00] years, I wanna see us be brave enough and courageous enough to implement these solutions. I want governments to meet all of their climate targets. I want schools to teach about climate in a comprehensive way, and I want the fashion world to be a lot more mindful and not just rely on these micro trends that actually make clothes throw away. And I never thought we would be at that point where I'm not looking forward to giving my great-granddaughter this sweater.
[00:51:29] Anna Stoecklein: Mm-hmm. Yeah. All right, then before I ask a final question about a takeaway for people, is there anything else that you wanted to talk about today that we haven't covered?
[00:51:40] Xiye Bastida: I would say if you are particularly interested in the youth climate movement and how the youth climate movement has been able to really bring the climate crisis to the front pages, especially through the climate strikes that exploded in 2019, know that all of the high schoolers who organized those things [00:52:00] are all in college now, or most of us are of age where four years have passed.
[00:52:06] Xiye Bastida: So, we might not get a mobilisation as big as we got in the streets, but that doesn't mean that we're not already choosing our jobs and choosing the things that we're gonna study and our lifestyles in a way that is very strongly informed by this sense of community that we felt when organizing.
[00:52:25] Xiye Bastida: Because I think that that was a very strong moment for people. For me it was, seeing that I was going to sleep before a strike day and people in Australia were already on the streets and knowing that it was gonna be my turn. We have never ever seen mobilization so big in any issue area that is truly worldwide and coordinated, ever. And it's definitely because of the internet and social media and the fact that we're able to connect with each other.
[00:52:52] Xiye Bastida: And now all of those kids who are out there are in institutions trying to change them. And it's [00:53:00] not easy if we don't get support. So think of always, and I say this so many times, but always holding the hand of somebody who's wiser, older, and the hand of somebody who's younger and needs mentorship in a way. Because I know that even though I'm still a youth in the climate space, there is a 16 year old coming up right now that I need to be aware of.
[00:53:22] Xiye Bastida: So just be mindful of the fact that we can help in a much closer way than we think. It doesn't have to be theoretical. It can be very doable to make sure that if you have woken up to the fact that we need to be part of climate solutions, you bring other people with you. It's like when people say, bring two friends to the polls, bring to friends to climate solutions with you.
[00:53:44] Anna Stoecklein: Amazing. Great. And if people take one thing away from this conversation with you today, what would you want it to be?
[00:53:52] Xiye Bastida: Even though activism is always seen as confrontational, I actually see it as a practice in creativity and [00:54:00] imagination. Because we are challenging broken systems and imagining what a new, better world looks like.
[00:54:07] Xiye Bastida: We are artists of the future, and I think if we see ourselves as that, everything becomes much more exciting. So think of yourself as having this very strong agency and that you know that whatever energy you're putting into the movement right now will be the future that your kids are gonna live in. I usually have to remind myself of this.
[00:54:30] Xiye Bastida: If you take one thing away from today, is the power of agency that we have. Don't fall into the monotonous. Always question things and try to imagine them in a better way.
[00:54:42] Anna Stoecklein: Incredible. What an incredible note to end on. Xiye Bastida, thank you so much for your work and your wisdom. I am inspired by you and I am very excited to see what you do in the years to [00:55:00] come. So thank you so much for your time.
[00:55:02] Xiye Bastida: Yeah, thank you for listening.
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[00:55:59] Overdub: [00:56:00] This episode was produced and hosted by me, Anna Stoecklein.
[00:56:03] Overdub: It was edited by Maddy Searle. With communications support by Jo Cummings.A special thanks to Amanda Brown, Kate York, and Dan Kendall for their ongoing production support and invaluable advising.💌 Sharing is caring