Voteless Not Voiceless: Youth Speak Out for the Blue Planet

“Voteless” youth (ages 13-17) from the U.S. are invited to share their stories about environmental issues that impact them, and inspire voters to cast their ballot with the future of our blue planet in mind. For every story received, we make a $10 donation (up to $2,020) to our campaign partner Our Climate to support their 2020 voter registration and mobilization efforts across the country.

Even though they can’t yet vote, young people can shift the hearts and minds of those who can. By raising our voices together, we can build a healthier and safer future for our families, friends, and communities, and for our blue planet.

Share Your Story

Voteless Not Voiceless is a non-partisan project of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we engage in activities that raise awareness of environmental issues that impact young people. We do not endorse, oppose, or campaign for specific candidates.

Youth Stories

Ashley P., 16, New Jersey

Schuyler J., 17, California

Demetri S., 16, Florida

Ryan L., 14, Massachusetts

As a runner, I’m in nature a lot. It’s sad to run through parks or by water and see trash littered in them. My hope is that we as a community can clean up the world by joining together—when people unite for a common cause, they can accomplish amazing things. Remember that having the right to vote is a great power, and you should use it to protect our planet. I’m only 14, so I can’t vote, but you can.

Jessica L., 15, California

I would always see the clear blue water shimmering with an almost fairy tale-like sparkle whenever we passed by the lake in our car. The first time we visited the lake, the mirage of beauty quickly faded. The waters had receded to half its original size and were an eddying brown; trash littered the shores. It may be too late for this lake and its ecosystem within, but it is not too late for us, as a community, to step up to global warming and harmful human activities to preserve the nature around us, such as these precious blue lakes. The first step to a better world is choosing a leader who wishes to maintain the sanctity of our blue planet as much as we do. I am still young, so I can’t vote, but you can.

Tara P., 14, Maryland

Rose T., 16, Maryland

Maryland is among the states most vulnerable to climate change—rising sea levels, along with increased storm intensity, have devastating and far-reaching environmental and economic impacts on Chesapeake Bay and the quality of life for Marylanders. Everywhere, we face an increased risk of flooding and significant property damage as a result of more precipitation and other extreme weather events. I am scared for my future and the futures of my peers, but I am also hopeful. I am doing what I can to reduce my carbon footprint, but I must ask you to do what I cannot—vote. For a safer, better future and a healthy planet.

Sydney P., 16, New York

New York is surrounded by beautiful beaches with soft sand and bold waves. As climate change intensifies, water levels are rising which, in turn, erodes beaches and exacerbates coastal flooding. I grew up going to the beach to build sandcastles and splash around in the ocean. It is petrifying to think that my children will not have that same opportunity. I am pushing for voters to elect a candidate who stands against climate change and who is ready to put reforms in place to make a difference.

Grace S., 16, Texas

Among the countless stereotypes Texas has, many people believe we suffer from drought and desertification. In actuality, a prominent issue Texas encounters devastates waterways and vegetation. A stroll through my suburban neighborhood will display grocery bags clinging to creek banks, plastic shards intertwining roots, and bottles sprinkled throughout sidewalk grass. Research based on this visual demonstrates that Texas shockingly accumulates plastic 10 times the rate of other Gulf states.

Each individual’s environmental situation varies, but hope exists. Unfortunately, a key method to improve climate policies is through government legislators. Keeping this and my own state condition in mind, if I could vote, I would choose someone as passionate and aware of the climate crisis as I am; any candidate eager to improve the environmental state of Earth is eager to improve the state of her/his people. Remember this.

I cannot vote yet, but you most certainly can. Use it wisely.

Ariana P., 14, California

Vote!

At the very core of our democracy is the fundamental right to vote for every citizen; everyone’s votes are equal. It is important to vote to express your individual opinion on issues that are important to you and the direction you would like our government to take. Global warming is real, and it is time to deal with it.

In 2020 the candidates have different ideas on the environment and carbon emissions.  Listen and learn about their positions, then make a decision. Voting allows for a peaceful way for everyone to express their opinion, transfer power, and change laws.

By voting, you are directly involved in the election process for your country’s, state’s, and city’s representation. Casting a vote helps support candidates who might think the same way as you on global warming and the environment. I cannot vote, but you can.

Kimberley D., 15, Florida

My family lives in an apartment, right in front of a marina. Boats come and go, and groups of families and friends radiate with joy as they travel to nearby sandbars. I’ve observed boat detailers tend to their boats so frequently that I know their schedules. I’ve seen graceful pods of dolphins, their fins barely grazing the surface of the water; energetic schools of fish; and majestic white-feathered birds that meet on a small island in the middle of the bay. I’ve seen curious children, pointing into the depths of the water; couples sitting on the boardwalk as the sun sets over the herbaceous trees; and brave families paddling to the island and back with only their strength. With these observations comes realizations. I’ve seen metallic, oily layers tainting the waters; discarded cups, once filled with alcohol, scattered along the boardwalk; and abandoned waters, where exuberant fish once swam. I’ve seen men blatantly avoiding the “NO FISHING” signs for their own self-interest; boat detailers carelessly dumping substances into the bay, their concerns elsewhere; and dozens with no regard for nature. Telling others to respect the environment is no longer enough—that is an inherent duty of ours as humans. Rather, I am now determined to encourage others to take action in reminding world leaders of our duty to Mother Earth in order to make true change possible.

Nousayba M., 15, Texas

Texas is one of many states that has been affected by climate change with a wide range of environmental impacts, including rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather, wildfires, and pressure on water resources. While the frequency of hurricanes is expected to stay the same or even decrease, their intensity is expected to increase significantly. And thanks to sea level rise, the risk of these storms has increased, especially along the Gulf Coast. It’s time the world sees how our planet is being affected; it’s time we all had a voice. I may not be able to vote, but you can and make that change.

Venus A., 14, Washington

All my life, I have lived near the coast. A long and calm stroll on the beach will display heaps of plastic wrappers and bags that wash away in the colossal waves. These plastics disintegrate into millions of microplastics and settle in the bellies of fish. Once caught, these fish enter our stomachs, filling us with thousands of harmful microplastics.

When I look at the streets in Seattle, I see cars frequently travel for commerce, emitting a trail of abhorrent exhaust. These extensive quantities of polluted air cause global warming, which induces rising sea levels that destroy homes on the coast, and a multitude of storms that take lives and destroy regions.

In the end, everything we do wrong comes back to hurt us. I can’t vote, but you can, so vote for someone who takes the environment as seriously as your lives.

Jessica W., 17, Massachusetts

Every day of past summers, I’d regularly take morning jogs, afternoon hikes, and beach strolls in the evenings. Since 2017, I’ve noticed my city’s great deterioration. When I walk by my elementary school, I’m baffled. The once unspotted playground is mantled by plastic bottles and scraps; the once nourishing soil of greenery is full of dead grass. Negligent behaviors occur at our beach and trail parks, too. Environmental conflicts expand with rising sea levels and abnormal climate reports. Although these impacts bring afflictions to civilians, I believe it’ll be conquered by unity and aspiration. And the first step is voting for leaders who have the same ambitions and endeavors to curtail climate crisis and nature-threatening actions. As close as I am to voting for a bluer planet, I’m just below that height requirement bar for a roller coaster ride. I can’t vote, but you can. Make a difference with it.

Jaloni T., 13, North Carolina

I started scuba diving at 10 years old—this is why the climate crisis is personal to me. Each time I dive, I learn more and more about the changes happening to the ocean life, like the discoloring of the coral reefs, which is caused by the loss of oxygen in the ocean… And that causes less ocean life for me to explore. I will see fewer whales, dolphins, octopuses, sand Tiger sharks, and other sea life.

I see more than just the climate crisis killing the ocean life: I am learning about over-exploitation of fish and oil drilling, as well as how marine animals mistake plastic and other trash as food, which is killing marine life.

The ocean, lakes, and seas are a big part of my future, and I need to get the word out that kids like me need everyone’s voices and hands to help.

Qamar S., 17, Indiana

Seven years old. I remember the sunshine that covered the dry sand and the seagulls that sang their songs with glee. I remember the clear, blue ocean that tickled my toes and made me jump when the piercing cold water touched my skin. Most of all, I remember the beauty. Simple, elegant, and beautiful. That was my beach.

Seventeen years old. I see a beach scattered with soiled litter, an ocean that has been washed out of all its blue and been replaced by a murky brown. The eerie silence from the lack of seagulls brings a new feeling in my stomach, and I realize now that this place is no normal beach; this place is a graveyard in disguise. This is not my beach.

Change is needed, and change is needed fast. I can’t vote, but you can.

Shan T., 15, Massachusetts

Recently, Hurricane Isaias wreaked havoc as it tore up the East Coast. After we lost power, we turned on our generator. Although the instructions on the generator explicitly stated that the fumes were toxic, we felt justified to release them for a flicker of light. Is flooding the air with poisonous gas fine if it’s not inside? That thought is what got us in this situation to begin with.

Hurricane Isaias killed at least 13. It’s the 9th of 24 projected hurricanes this year, making this the worst season since 2005. Five hurricanes are predicted to have windspeeds greater than 111 mph. Isaias peaked at 85 mph.

While hurricanes will occur anyways, as our planet grows weaker, they will be amplified. Just as communities recover from a storm, they’re battered with another. How much can we take? I can’t vote, but you can. Elect someone who cares about our beautiful planet.

Michael Y., 16, Florida

As a sophomore in high school, it can be hard to have your voice heard. Everyone is so focused on “fitting in” that many forget that we have to step out of our comfort zones to speak up for what’s right. This is the perfect time to speak up about pressing world issues. The most pressing, I believe, is global warming. It feels like each year in Florida, the summers keep getting hotter. This is caused by high car emissions and deforestation. Car emissions, especially close to the ocean, kill off phytoplankton, and deforestation cuts down trees; the main two living things that take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Now is the time to step up and make a difference in our world.

Hannah L., 16, Georgia

If I could vote, I’d vote for someone who will lead us into a more sustainable world, guided by unitary and exemplary standards. If I could vote, I’d vote for someone who will be empowered by and help find a solution to the problem that is the Dead Sea receding three feet per year, so my children can experience what I did there. If I could vote, I’d vote for a future that values the air I breathe over the short-term profits made by the systems polluting it. If I could vote, I’d vote for a candidate that understands that a world warming is a world dying at the hands of those who claim oblivion. There is no Planet B. I can’t vote to save the planet, but you can.

Julianne P., 15, California

It’s hard to watch from your car window and drive by miles of land all around you buried in trash. It’s even harder to enjoy the beach where filthy pollutants are bobbing up and down in the water. What have we done? We need to take action. We cannot act like we are the only ones living on this planet. Animals are dying. The ocean is dying. This planet is dying, although you might not want to acknowledge it. I have a future—we all do. And in this future, I wish to see a beautiful, clean planet. I may not be able to vote, but you can. So please, save our planet.