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“I Know You’re Trying, but Just Not Hard Enough”, Teen Activist to Lawmakers

"I know you're trying," she told Democratic senators at an invitation-only forum, but just not hard enough

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Teen, Activist, Lawmakers
Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunber, 16, sits on the side among other youth climate activists at a news conference about the Green New Deal hosted by U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019. VOA

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg offered a blunt message to Congress on Tuesday as she brought her campaign for urgent action on climate change to the U.S. Capitol. Teen.

“I know you’re trying,” she told Democratic senators at an invitation-only forum, “but just not hard enough. Sorry.”

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey thanked the 16-year-old activist for her advice and her activism, which has gained worldwide attention by inspiring a series of protests and school strikes, including one set for Friday.

Thunberg and other young activists bring “moral clarity” to the fight against global warming, Markey said.

Teen, Activist, Lawmakers
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) speaks at a news conference about the Green New Deal hosted by U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) on the Northeast lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019. VOA

“We hear you,” he told her, vowing that lawmakers “will redouble our efforts to make sure that we inject this issue into the politics of this building and this country because time is running out.”

Markey and other lawmakers hailed Thunberg as a “superpower,” noting that her activism has drawn a passionate following of children essentially challenging their elders to take action.

“Save your praise,” Thunberg replied. “We don’t want it,” she added, especially if officials intend to talk about climate change “without doing anything about it.”

Thunberg was in Washington ahead of a global strike planned for Friday. Activists are calling for immediate action from the world’s governments to halt global warming, reduce fossil fuel consumption and avert environmental catastrophe.

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Instead of listening to her and other teenagers, lawmakers should invite scientists to the Capitol to listen to their expertise on ways to slow a rise in global temperatures, Thunberg said.

“This is not about us. This is not about youth activism,” she said. “We don’t want to be heard. We want the science to be heard.”

Despite Thunberg’s request, lawmakers bombarded her and other youth activists with praise, saying they had sparked a global movement that is already being felt in the 2020 presidential campaign and in the halls of Congress, where lawmakers are debating proposals such as the Green New Deal.

Markey is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, which would shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

Teen, Activist, Lawmakers
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg offered a blunt message to Congress on Tuesday as she brought her campaign for urgent action on climate change to the U.S. Capitol. Pixabay

“We need your leadership,” he told Thunberg and other activists. “It’s creating a new X-factor” to boost efforts to fight climate change.

Last month, Thunberg crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a solar-powered boat, landing in New York City on Aug. 28. She’s in Washington for several days of rallies and lobbying efforts ahead of Friday’s global climate strike.

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Thunberg will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday and address the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York next week. (VOA)

Next Story

Michigan Teen Gets First Double Lung Transplant Linked to Vaping

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit described to reporters Tuesday the procedure that saved the 17-year-old's life and pleaded

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Michigan, Teen, Lung Transplant
Dr. Hassan Nemeh, Surgical Director of Thoracic Organ Transplant, shows areas of a patient's lungs during a news conference at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Nov. 12, 2019. VOA

A Michigan teenager was the recipient of what could be the first double lung transplant on a person whose lungs were severely damaged from vaping, health officials said Tuesday.

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit described to reporters Tuesday the procedure that saved the 17-year-old’s life and pleaded for the public to understand the dangers of vaping.

The teen was admitted in early September to a Detroit-area hospital with what appeared to be pneumonia. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and taken Oct. 3 to Henry Ford Hospital where the transplant was performed Oct. 15. The double lung transplant is believed to be the first performed on a patient due to vaping.

Doctors found an “enormous amount of inflammation and scarring” on the teen’s lungs, said Dr. Hassan Nemeh, surgical director of thoracic organ transplant at Henry Ford. “This is an evil I haven’t faced before. The damage that these vapes do to people’s lungs is irreversible. Please think of that — and tell your children to think of that.”

Michigan, Teen, Lung Transplant
A photo of a patient being transported is displayed while medical staff at Henry Ford Hospital answer questions during a news conference in Detroit, Nov. 12, 2019. VOA

Health officials declined to release the teen’s name and said he is expected to recover. They also did not specify what the teen vaped or how long he vaped.

“We asked Henry Ford doctors to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real!” his family said in a statement released by the hospital. “Our family could never have imagined being at the center of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades.”

“Within a very short period of time, our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year old athlete — attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games — to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted.”

The boy had his 17th birthday after initially being admitted to the hospital.

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More than 2,000 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teenagers and young adults, and at least 40 people have died.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week announced a breakthrough into the cause of a vaping illness outbreak, identifying the chemical compound vitamin E acetate as a “very strong culprit” after finding it in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients. Vitamin E acetate previously was found in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many who got sick and only recently has been used as a vaping fluid thickener.

Many who got sick said they had vaped liquids that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana, with many saying they received them from friends or bought them on the black market.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices heat a liquid into an inhalable vapor. Most products contained nicotine, but THC vaping has been growing more common.

Michigan, Teen, Lung Transplant
FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

Henry Ford doctors did not say Tuesday what the lung transplant recipient vaped. They did say that he was critically ill when he arrived at Henry Ford where he was placed Oct. 8 on an organ transplant waiting list. His lung damage due to vaping was so severe and he was so close to death that the teen immediately was placed at the top of the transplant waiting list, they said.

“Vaping-related injuries are all too common these days. Our adolescents are faced with a crisis,” said Dr. Lisa Allenspach, pulmonologist and the medical director of Henry Ford’s Lung Transplant Program. “We are just beginning to see the enormous health consequence jeopardizing the youth in our country … these vaping products should not be used in any fashion.”

The 17-year-old’s case does not open any new ethical considerations about transplants for people how who irreparably damage their own lungs by vaping, Nemeh told The Associated Press.

“It won’t change what we do on a routine basis. We will still evaluate every patient as an individual patient,” he said. “We hope sharing this patient’s story prevents anyone else from experiencing a vaping injury that would require a transplant.”

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Nemeh added that lung transplants have been considered for ex-smokers who have quit and demonstrated that they quit smoking, but transplants are not routinely done for people over the age of 70.
“Children do receive priority over an adult for a transplant from a pediatric donor,” he said. “The United Network for Organ Sharing creates the rules and then offers the organs to recipients who are a match. We don’t decide who gets an offer.” (VOA)