Covering her head with a protest sign that reads “We Can’t Eat Money and Drink Crude Oil,” Shaylyn Warrior runs to cover as a storm pours down onto the 2019 Lubbock Climate Strike. Originally from Carlsbad, New Mexico, Warrior, 21, grew up around the oil industry and continues to live among it while attending college in West Texas. The most recent oil boom in Texas and New Mexico is in full swing; thousands of people and hundreds of towns depend on the oil industry for their livelihoods. Warrior understands the importance that crude oil plays, but she, as well as many others in attendance of the strike today, have decided that it’s time the American Southwest turned away from fossil fuel production.
Double majoring in political science and French at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Warrior is a political activist for climate change. Today she is a part of the 2019 Global Climate March at one of three strikes held in Lubbock. As I interviewed her in the park on the corner of a busy intersection adjacent to the college, chants from other marchers intermingle with the din of traffic in the background.
“What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? NOW!”
Q: Why are you here today?
A: I’m here today to support a strike and be a part of the movement to help the next generation live. I recently became president of the Tech Student Democrats on campus and found out about the event through a speaker we met with. Our future depends on being politically active and making changes.
Q: Do you think that climate change and environmental issues have a negative connotation in West Texas?
A: (My hometown) has an oil-based economy. Lubbock is the same. A lot of people rely on the oilfield as a source of income. We’re a part of that spectrum, but we need to go to other forms of energy. It’s hard for people to accept a shift away from it, but there are little things we can do like recycle and decrease the use of cars.
Q: How long do you think it will be until we begin to see noticeable changes?
A: I believe that it will take at least 10 years to decrease carbon emissions, but I believe that with everyone on board we can get there faster.
Q: When did you become politically active?
A: I became involved in politics during the last election and became more conscious of decisions in relation to the climate when I realized my own faults during my first year of college. I started realizing how much waste we produce as individuals and as an entire population.
Q: What do you see as the most pressing issue in regards to climate change today?
A: The most pressing issue, in my opinion, is the rising temperature levels and extreme weather.
Q: How do you think we can help this particular issue as well as any others that we face?
A: We can start by taking on industries that control single use plastic. We can speak to our representatives and increase regulations that will fight to curb our effect on the planet.
The interview ended, and Warrior touched up her sodden sign with a permanent marker. As she made her way back to join the other protesters, the sun began to peek through the clouds and the downpour weakened into a drizzle. Adding her voice to the chants of the group, Warrior held her sign up proudly.