As a child growing up in Portland, Ore., Luna Abadia was always curious about the nature around her. She carried a journal with her that she called her “book of questions” and filled it with observations of her world.
What happens when we sneeze? She wrote. Why is my dog’s nose wet?
She’s not sure if she ever answered all of her questions, but it instilled in her an interest in science and etymology.
But as she went through school and learned about the realities of climate change, she was overwhelmed by a “sense of hopelessness” and fear of what the world would look like as she got older.
She said she had many breakdowns over the uncertainty, but now after finding a way to make change, she channels her fear into action.
“Climate action isn’t necessarily like a sacrifice, or debilitating,” Abadia said. “I think it’s more of an investment for my future. It definitely impacts me, but also, I don’t have mental breakdowns anymore. I learned to channel that fear into a sense of action and motivation. That’s what’s gotten me through and helped me deal with the immensity of this issue.”
Abadia, 17, is the founder of the Effective Climate Action Project, a youth-led environmental organization focused on promoting systemic solutions to climate change.
Abadia is GeekWire’s Junior Geek of the Month for July. The monthly honor, presented by Northern Trust, recognizes talented young scholars, innovators, creators and entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest.
A large part of Abadia’s work at the Effective Climate Action Project is facilitating climate simulation workshops. It also helps promote youth engagement and shares information on actionable steps to address climate change.
The Project uses two computer models designed by MIT and Climate Interactive that allow participants to input different policy solutions to climate change, like promoting forestation or eliminating fossil fuels. The simulations allow not only young people but also business leaders participating to see the outcomes of each of these solutions.
Abadia founded the Project last summer, when the world was reeling from COVID-19. After a year, Abadia is still seeing the effects of climate change happening in the Pacific Northwest. She mentioned the recent heat wave, wildfires and poor air quality bringing climate change to the front of people’s minds.
Over the past year, the Effective Climate Action Project has hosted 16 workshops for about 150 people. Now, Abadia said her foundation is opening a global internship program to train young people on educating others about climate change and leading simulations.
Abadia was one of the winners of T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge. Her team won $5,000 in seed money and a trip to Bellevue, Wash., for the Changemaker Lab to develop action plans.
In the long term, Abadia sees her organization expanding its social media outreach. She said she hopes to help people learn to balance individual and collective climate action. She also hopes to provide school teachers with curriculum guidance on teaching about climate change.
But Abadia is still a high school senior, concerned with applying for colleges. She hopes to establish a mentorship program through the Effective Climate Action Project to pass it down to more youth.
Abadia isn’t sure what she will study in college, but she’s interested in a lot of things. Along with English, she speaks Spanish and Japanese. She spent time abroad as a student in Japan, so she loves learning about Japanese food and culture. Abadia still hopes to work in environmental policy and climate advocacy. She hopes to find the intersection of these in international relations.
Outside of work, Abadia loves hiking, running, reading and writing. In the future, she hopes to travel to Japan again as well as Columbia, where she has family.
Abadia said she wants to tell other young people that they don’t need to start their own organization to make a difference.
“Everyone has their own way in which they can make an impact on climate change and other issues they’re passionate about,” Abadia said.
Nominate a Junior Geek
GeekWire will feature a new Junior Geek of the Month in profiles meant to capture how they are looking to make a positive impact on the world through their geeky pursuits. In addition, they’ll receive special recognition from our project partner, Northern Trust.
Do you know an exceptional Junior Geek between the ages of 12 to 20 who is going to change the world? Submit a nomination.
Nominees must be residents of the Pacific Northwest, and parental information must be included for those nominees under the age of 18. Jr. Geeks may nominate themselves but please be sure to include your parent or guardian’s contact information.