Mrinal Kulkarni is a 14-year-old climate activist located in Cumming, GA where he leads an ACE Action Team. There, he organizes projects in his local area to spread awareness about climate change and educate people about it.
Gari De Ramos (GDR): When and how did you realize we were in a climate crisis? How did that make you feel?
Mrinal Kulkarni (MK): I actually was really fascinated with animals (and still am). So, I began watching documentaries on Netflix a couple of years ago — maybe around 2019 or 2020. Unfortunately, I began to learn why certain species of my favorite animals were on the brink of extinction. And it was because of climate change. This shattered my heart because I realized the decline of certain endangered animal species wasn’t because of predators or other external forces, but because human-driven factors.
GDR: How has the climate emergency impacted you and your communities?
MK: In my community, there is a lot of urbanization which causes deforestation. Because of this, there is a lot of plastic pollution and air pollution in the local area. In my backyard, there is a portion of plastic bags and plastic boxes. And there aren’t a lot of trees so I could see the houses on the other side of the fence. This ruins the view of nature in the backyard, invades privacy, and just looks bad. Even when I’m going to school on the bus, I can see pieces of trash on the side of the road and soda cans thrown into trees.
GDR: You’re involved in an ACE Action Team. Can you tell us about what that group is and your role in it?
MK: The group is called ACE West Forsyth. And I am an Action Team Leader. My role is to carry out and organize projects that educate the public and raise awareness about climate change in my community.
GDR: Why did you choose to join an ACE Action Team?
MK: I chose to create an Action Team because I believed that change was necessary In my community and that it is important that people preserve the earth by doing something helpful.
Change was necessary In my community and … it is important that people preserve the earth by doing something helpful.
GDR: What kinds of actions has your ACE Action Team taken to fight climate change?
MK: Our ACE Action Team has done classroom visits, celebrated Earth Day by attending a local festival, and created a program at my local library that discussed why climate change is dangerous, what causes climate change, and what people can do to prevent a climate crisis from having detrimental effects.
GDR: Talk about a time you felt proud of the impact you had made through your climate activism.
MK: I felt proud when a peer of mine donated money to a climate organization after I’d done a classroom visit. My peer was really unconcerned with climate change and didn’t believe it was a real thing until I’d shown him actual proof during my classroom visit.
GDR: Why is local climate activism so important?
MK: Local climate activism is really important because people deserve justice in the local area and to help the people in need. I believe it’s the ethical thing to do. It’s not just about helping people, but also helping animals and creating a cleaner and more vibrant environment.
GDR: What is your advice to young people who want to get involved in climate activism?
MK: My advice is to start a local chapter and communicate with other climate activists in the area. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses and utilize that to create a change in the environment.
GDR: How can others uplift or support the work you do?
MK: Other people can donate to a climate change organization, start a local chapter, and spread awareness about the effects of climate change.
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