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Moving Beyond a Single Climate Savior — Xiuhtezcatl Martinez


Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians

A young powerful climate advocate

He had just turned 15. I first saw a video of Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez speaking about climate change and performing an original song. With a clear message, excellent speaking skills, and an arresting stage presence, I felt grateful that there was a young spokesperson on the scene talking so well about climate issues.

Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced shu-tez-cot) now 16 years old, attended the  famous Paris Climate Talks last fall. He appears in Josh Fox’s new film, and he is one of 21 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the federal government because of the US government’s chronic climate inaction. In his home state of Colorado, he, his family, and friends have seen significant successes in taking on politically charged ecological issues.

Taking his message to prime time TV

These days Xiuhtezcatl is popping up everything, including national TV. Most recently he appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher.


A group of young people are being heard in federal court in their demand for governmental intervention to address climate change

As I have come to expect, during his appearance on Bill Maher, Xiuhtezcatl spoke well, passionately, and comfortably. (The link to the segment is below.) Bill Maher was his usual smarmy, obnoxious, killjoy self attempting to throw cold water on his young guest’s enthusiasm and message. And in every instance Xiuhtezcatl parried with wit, insight, and confidence.

He also made it clear that he does not stand alone. There are loads of young people like him who are concerned and who are speaking out. In his speeches and appearances, he constantly reminds us that our collective voices are powerful and necessary in order to address global warming and save humanity.

Not a singular savior–part of the collective

Xiuhtezcatl presents a different model for us, one that we do not often see, particularly modeled by young men in America. He does not position himself as the savior–The One–come to rescue the world with his wisdom and charm. Rather he constantly reminds us that he is only one part connected to a large and growing movement.

While recognizing the challenges of the working through the political process to see change happen, he refuses to be cynical as he insists that we use the existing channels to pursue the systemic changes in our energy policy and global consumption that we need to address global warming.

If you want a shot of hope and enthusiasm and insight, check out Xiuhtezcatl’s appearance on Real Time w/Bill Maher June 24, 2016.

Also, see Xiuhtezcatl talking about our place and power in the world to repair our connection with the earth.


Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is

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