Could His Hip-Hop Save the Earth?

Xiuhtezcatl, 16, writes music to spread important messages about climate change—and he wants you to listen up.

When Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced shu-TEZ-kot) Martinez was just 6 years old, he watched The 11th Hour, a documentary about the devastating impact humans are having on the environment. Shocked by what he saw, he decided he had to do something about climate change. His family was already environmentally conscious—his mom had founded a group called Earth Guardians, and his older siblings were now running it—but it was the film that truly spurred Xiuhtezcatl into action. “I saw that the world was in danger,” he says. “It was terrifying for me.”

He began sneaking into Earth Guardians meetings, and before long, he was traveling around the world to educate and inspire people to join the fight. “I understood young people’s responsibility to act and be a part of a movement for change,” he says.

RYSE: Activating the Youth-Led Climate Movement
In this Earth Guardians video, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez discusses his heritage as an indigenous person and how this makes him an original activist for the earth.

Ten years later, Xiuhtezcatl is the youth director of Earth Guardians—but that’s not the only way he gets his message across. He also writes and performs powerful hip-hop songs with his younger brother. “It’s hard for young people to relate to scientists explaining climate change,” he says. “But we can connect to it through music.” The pair has performed in the United Nations, at music festivals, and at schools all over the globe. “I call myself a warrior for the Earth,” Xiuhtezcatl says.

Saving the planet may seem daunting, but Xiuhtezcatl says just spreading the word about how to help the Earth is important (see “4 Easy Ways,” p. 23). “Your voice can make a difference,” he says. “We can protect the Earth, the air, the water, and the atmosphere so our generation will inherit a safe, healthy planet.”

25-35%: of plants and animals have a high risk of extinction because of global warming

6.7 in.: The amount the global average sea level has risen during the 20th century

150: glaciers existed in Glacier National Park in 1910. There are fewer than 30 now.

The U.S. is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to reduce the impact you have on the environment.

1. Plug your electronics into power strips, and turn the switch off when not in use.

2. Bring reusable bags when you go shopping. 

3. Walk, skateboard, or ride a bike whenever possible—and if you have to drive, try to carpool.

4. Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.

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