The Climate Activist, Kate Devitt

Personally, when I started out with my activism I was inspired by other activists around me. When I heard their stories and their opinions it helped to encourage me to take action. Every activist has their story. It is their stories that influence other people to take action. Due to this, I have interviewed some activists and I’m hoping that their stories inspire you to start your story.

Kate first started activism when she was 12. She joined her schools Environmental Committee which was a follow on from being part of her Green Schools in primary school. But even after being a part of these groups she “didn’t quite grasp how serious of an issue climate change was and therefore wasn’t very serious about it.” Yet she took the determination to learn more about climate change and to take action once she realized the catastrophic consequences it will have for humanity.

When asked about a source of inspiration that leads to her actions Kate said was when she saw all of the “terrible things happening on the news” and she felt “so bad for the people being impacted”. As many of us know climate change is not coming, it is already here, and it is having a terrible impact on countries around the world. To learn more she “did some research and learned about it in school and the more [she] learnt about the damage we were doing to the earth the more [she] was inspired to do something about it.” And that is what we need! We need schools with a subject course just for climate change, justice and action. We need a course that will give the information and inspiration needed to the youth so that they can make changes that are necessary, and can convince their families and friends to take action too. And to finish off her answer Kate said , “But what drives me is thinking about what an amazing world we could live in, in 20/30 years time if we change now.”

In relation to protests Kate said, “I started getting involved with climate action just before the coronavirus pandemic, so I haven’t been able to attend any in-person strikes yet, but I have had the pleasure of attending an online strike with Fridays for Future recently and it was amazing. I rallied some of my friends together and we sat and striked from some of our classes. I loved feeling like I was actually doing something because often I feel like the little changes I make couldn’t really have an impact.” Due to the coronavirus pandemic climate action groups like Fridays For Future were forced to move online. You would think that a pandemic would stop everything, even the climate movement, but it hasn’t. The youth movement may have gotten stronger as strikes have grown online and groups can meet online and work together to create change.

Many people can suffer from eco-anxiety and for Kate she believes that taking “action does definitely help with eco-anxiety. But even then, the anxiety can be quite overwhelming. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is hope, and little changes (although they aren’t enough) are being made and the movement is gaining traction.” It is important to know that eco-anxiety is okay. It is a normal response to a scary situation but there is also light at the end of that tunnel. By taking action and talking with other activists you can deal with that eco-anxiety and create positive change at the same time!

Many people may be able to relate to this, “I wouldn’t say that I have experienced hate because of activism, but I have definitely been laughed at and made fun of for giving up 20 minutes of my Thursday lunch time to attend meetings with my school’s environmental committee.” Kate said. “But, I don’t let it get to me because Climate Action is so extremely important and I couldn’t imagine not being involved with it.” She follows up with brilliant advice, “to anyone that is experiencing hate, I would say to just remember, in 10 years when you have contributed to an amazing movement [the climate movement] those people will be the ones thanking you for helping to save the planet!” If you look back through history, you will see that many huge movements that changed the world for the better were laughed at in the beginning. But by the end these movements and the people involved are remembered for their actions saved the world.

The advice Kate gives to starting out activists is to “stick with it! It can seem daunting at first but once you get started there is always something to do, whether its a workshop, event or meeting, go for it! You will thank yourself later.” And that just reinforces the point that the hardest part of anything is the beginning, the point where you bravely put yourself out there to join something or start something. Then from that point on everything becomes easier and life before you know it has changed for the better.

For Kate it wasn’t hard to get involved with activism. She “signed up for things and it went from there. The people in the community are so incredibly supportive, welcoming and kind. Everyone has to start somewhere and once you get over the initial fear, it is smooth sailing!”

Mental health is an incredibly important thing in life in general. It is important to care for your mental health, especially in climate activism. For Kate to take care of her mental health she “takes social media breaks. Especially because Climate change is often associated with bad news! It is 100% worth it because after, you come back as a better activist who is equipped to change the world!” Sometimes when you take a break it may feel like your giving up but that break can give you the chance to become an even better person who can make even bigger differences in the world. If you need a break, take it!

Her advice to activists is to join the following groups “I would recommend SCAN (students climate action network) and FFF (Fridays for futures). They are both amazing organisations with lovely people in them who are very helpful and can point you in the direction of where to start.” She also advices for people to educate yourself and attend as much as you can "especially now when we can't be out striking on the streets." She adds, "use this time to educate yourself by keeping up with the news, reading policy, attending workshops so that you can be a better activist and be even more of an asset to the movement!"

Thank you Kate for your amazing advice and answers in this interview!