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Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes says that climate change is affecting residents, especially people of color, throughout all of Wisconsin. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)

Stephanie Salgado, 18, is no stranger to the devastating affects of climate change. In her home country of Honduras, Salgado saw farmers struggle to buy food because of poor crops and beaches overrun with plastic and oil spills.

Instead of simply bearing witness, Salgado decided to do something about it and became a climate change activist with Youth Climate Action Team, a youth-run nonprofit dedicated to fighting against climate change.

Salgado said its been hard, but they’re doing what they can to change the world.

As a team member, Salgado helps to organize strikes, talks with legislators and more. On Thursday, Oct. 17, Salgado along with her teammate, Ayanna Lee, introduced Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes during a press conference at the Riverside Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Place.

During the press conference, Evers signed Executive Order #52, which established the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change.

“I’ve said since day one that climate change is real and we’ve been ignoring it for far too long,” Evers said.

Climate change poses a real and immediate threat and is not a bipartisan issue, he added.

“The Wisconsin way of life depends on clean air, clean water and clean land,” Evers said.

Evers appointed Barnes to serves as the chairman of the task force. He explained that Barnes has been passionate about climate change since the day they met.

Barnes said that he’s been wanting to create a climate change task force since the beginning, but he wanted to make sure it would be done right. In his travels throughout Wisconsin, he’s seen how climate change has affected everybody in some way.

People of color and especially indigenous people are some of the most affected by climate change.

“All of Wisconsin can prosper in transitioning to a just and equitable clean economy,” Barnes said in the press release.

Barnes said that the task force plans to take swift action but have deliberate conversations. It’ll focus on science, stewardship and sustainability.

August Ball, the CEO and founder of Cream City Conservation, is one of the members of the task force. She said that the task force is a way to bring together people who are smart, resilient and innovative.

A solution will be found, she said but it also means recognizing that this land once belonged to indigenous tribes, specifically the Potawatomi and Menomonee in Wisconsin. Solidarity is part of the solution.

While the task force consists of adults, Lee said the young can get involved by visiting ycatwi.org. There they can learn how to become part of a team to organize strikes, call legislators and advocate. Sometimes people yell or they don’t believe, but one person doesn’t compare to the hundreds of people who are taking a stand, Lee said.

And as Evers and Barnes said, it’s the young people who are really doing the most and now it’s time for the adults to do their jobs.

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