|Editor’s Note: 13-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (right, in the above photo) never ceases to inspire. Adversity that frankly scares me–the massive scale of climate change, scathing criticism from those opposed to my values–doesn’t daunt him. Xiuhtezcatl finds hope. He finds passion. He finds…just the right words. When his fracking presentation to fellow students sparked a furor among parts of his community, he faced threats of censorship and outright bullying by adults. And this is what he had to say.
My name is Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. I am writing this op-ed because I want to know why the biggest, most powerful industry is picking on kids who are trying to educate their peers about an issue they are passionate about.
I am a 13-year-old boy from the Aztec tradition and I have doing environmental activism since a young age. I have been giving presentations in schools on environmental issues, showing kids the state of the planet we are inheriting and the power we have to do something about it. A couple of years ago I learned about Fracking and started studying and uncovering the disastrous effects Fracking had on our health, the water, the air, and our community. I did hours of research, and reviewed many many studies about the direct hidden impacts of fracking in our community.
I was invited to do a Fracking presentation for two classes of about 26 students each at Evergreen middle school, but then word got out that a couple of kids were coming to talk about fracking and EVERYONE wanted to come. Together there were about 200 kids total and they were all very excited about the presentation and participated by asking questions and joining us in the Fracking song we performed. It went great and the kids loved it and they were all talking about how cool the presentation was and many of them signed a petition I brought for a Statewide ban on Fracking.
I was totally psyched, until I heard that one of the kids went home and told their parents who work for the Gas industry about the presentation and the song me and my brother performed called “What the Frack”. The parents got so mad and started calling other parents. Then they contacted the schools and said it wasn’t fair to give a one sided presentation to their kids, which I can see the point in that but the oil and gas industry do go into schools to convince kids Fracking is safe and are allowed to give kids brainwashing coloring books saying fracking is great. They talk about the coloring books in this Colbert Report if you go to the three minute marker:
The whole thing escalated when conservatives and oil and gas parents pulled a video of our Fracking performance at Evergreen school and started posting it all over the web saying very horrible things about me and bullying me and my little brother. They were posting name calling even cursing on my facebook and youtube pages, that other kids see who are a part of the Earth Guardian youth movement. I even got emails and one of them was from someone who said they work at the school I go to and they wanted to talk to me about the hate mail, and when my mom talked to the school they said no such person worked there.
I believe they got really upset because I was exposing the truth about fracking. I was educating them on the facts and science I have learned about fracking. Their was a study done by NOAA
on the air quality in Erie Colorado, close to my home where their is lots of wells, and it stated that they found levels of Methane, butane and some other carcinogenic chemicals in the air were higher then levels in big cities like Houston Texas and Pasadena California. The Lisa Mckensey study and report shows that living within a half mile of a fracking well results in a 66 percent increase in cancer. Wouldn’t you want to protect your kids from being exposed to these dangerous chemicals. The kids I have worked with in Erie who live near wells have severe nose bleeds, migraine headaches, asthma and other symptoms they never had until fracking wells showed up practically in their back yards.
More and more people are learning about how bad fracking is, even Robert F. Kennedy jr, came out and publicly admitted that Fracking is not a safe bridge away from fossil fuels and is worse for climate change then using coal because of the fugitive methane emissions that are released in the fracking process’s. A movement is growing across the country to stop fracking and implement renewable energy solutions. If they put half the money into renewables that they put into the gas, we could power our whole state of Colorado by solar or wind, which are both resources that are abundant in our state. Josh Fox’s new movie Gasland 2 is being released and I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about the dangers of fracking to watch it.
So my question is? Why does a multi-million dollar industry need to bully 10 and 13-year-old boys? Is their something they are hiding about the true impacts of fracking?
I have travelled nationally, and internationally to spread the Earth Guardian message that we all need to be guardians of this precious Earth that gives us life. If we don’t unite and work together to stop these dangerous practices, and change our consumption based life styles then our generation won’t have a chance of inheriting a healthy, habitable planet!
This was originally published on the Earth Guardians Facebook page, which contains the full version of this op-ed.