Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

The U.N. climate conference has a theme song this year . . . and it’s written and performed by a 15-year-old.

[music] “If a tree falls in the forest does anyone bother to listen? This is the people’s darkest hour. We must make the right decision. Extinction or salvation. Global deforestation. Are we the ancient guardians of this long lost nation?”

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

That’s Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and his group of eco hip hop artists performing “Speak for the Trees,” a song that encourages young people to raise their voices to fight climate change.

Martinez: “A lot of kids don’t know that it’s possible to change the world with your voice and it starts with one person, right? That’s how movements are built.”

Martinez was just six-years-old when he spoke at his first climate rally. And in 2013 he was honored with a community service award by President Obama.

Though still in high school, he has now addressed global leaders, and is youth director of Earth Guardians, a group mobilizing young environmental activists.

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While Martinez is passionate about protecting the planet, sometimes he just wants to be a kid.

Martinez: “In the next five to ten years of my life I want to have made enough forward movement with the work that I’m doing that there’s enough momentum that I can take a step back and live my life a little.”

He hopes his efforts inspire others to take responsibility for the earth and carry the torch after him.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Aren Zolninger.
Photo: Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (source: Earth Guardians).

More Resources
Speak for the Trees (video)
Earth Guardians
Meet the teenage indigenous hip-hop artist taking on climate change
This 14-year-old dubbed the ‘Anti-Bieber’ is rallying kids around the country to save the planet
Meet Xiuhtezcatl, the 14-year-old activist

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...