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Indiana Climate Activists: Rahul Durai and Siya Goel


Rahul Durai, 14

West Lafayette, Indiana

Instagram: @rahul.durai

How did you first get involved with climate activism?

I first started attending the climate strikes in eighth grade. During this past summer, I got involved with the youth-led West Lafayette Climate Strike and the Greater Lafayette team for the Beyond Coal Campaign. During this past election cycle, I briefly participated in political campaigning for Bernie Sanders. Then, I transitioned to volunteering with the Sunrise Movement and hosting phonebanks for the Biden campaign.


Who do you follow on social media for activism?

I am a politics junky, so I am currently following progressive politicians and their congressional accounts, including Bernie Sanders and AOC. I also love to follow political memes accounts to inject humor into the cynicism of current politics.


What is one individual action you take in your daily life?

I stay active in our climate activist group chats on GroupMe or Instagram. Not only are we able to keep in contact with our fellow youth activists, but it also helps our organizations feel like communities. I regularly read the New York Times to stay up-to-date on the current political happenings.


What is one impactful action you take against systemic issues?

I organize lit drops (passing out flyers) and phonebanks (calling voters) for political campaigns and climate campaigns. These forms of outreach help movements take root and grow. When I believe in activism, I believe in the grassroots power of people, organizing their neighbors and their friends”.


What is your skill as an activist?

I organize volunteers and I write. Here are two climate-related articles I’ve written:

Letter to the editor for the Sierra Club: https://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/readers/2020/10/29/indystar-letters-to-the-editor/6051805002/

Blog post on Indiana legislators who take money from Duke Energy: https://www.confronttheclimatecrisis.com/post/indiana-legislators-who-take-money-from-duke-energy


In a perfect ecotopia, what would you like to see in Indiana?

I would love to see an expansive renewable energy industry centered on the development of wind power. The jobs resulting from the wind industry (including the industrial production of turbines) would return to the communities suffering from coal pollution (Southwest Indiana and Northwest Indiana). Fossil fuel pollution has had devastating public health effects. We need progressive single-payer healthcare to help marginalized communities cope with the negative health outcomes of the climate crisis. I would imagine an Indiana that acknowledges how the climate crisis connects with economic inequality, racism, and the need for accessible healthcare.


Siya Goel, 16

West Lafayette, Indiana

Instagram: @ _siyagoel_

How did you get into activism for climate change?

My journey into activism was unorthodox, my exposure to climate activism included the following: I am interested in STEM and science research, specifically in computer science and molecular biology. Usually, politics obstruct science, but I found we can use climate science to drive policy. I am also active and involved in speech and debate. This exposed me to the intersection between social issues and politics but wasn’t driving me to action. My freshman year in high school, I went to the call-out meeting for West Lafayette Climate Strike. The speech by Annabel Prokopy motivated me to join.


Who do you follow on social media for activism?

I follow the typical influential individuals Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@aoc). I also follow climate activism organizations like @bayareaycs and @climaterealityyouth, to learn about organizing and coordinating.


What is one individual action you take in your daily life?

I make sure to stay up-to-date on the happenings in the world by reading the daily news, science articles, and research papers. I also stay updated in our Slack, sharing positive and motivational messages. You can join us here: https://www.confronttheclimatecrisis.com/our-campaign


What is one BIG impactful action you take against systemic issues?

I am involved with the climate organizations Just Transition Northwest Indiana and West Lafayette Climate! I am currently a core team member for the Indiana Confront the Climate Crisis Campaign.


Find these organizations at:

West Lafayette Climate Strike Facebook

West Lafayette Climate Strike Instagram

Just Transition NWI Instagram


What is your skill/talent as an activist?

In the beginning, I was mostly involved with event planning and coordinating speakers. Once we transitioned to online activism, we evolved to collaborate with other organizations and launch virtual meetings. Now, I’ve become our tech expert. I make our websites (including this one!), create slideshow presentations, and ensure Zoom calls run smoothly.


In a perfect ecotopia, what is something you would like to see in Indiana?

I align myself with the vision set forth by Just Transition NWI. I want to see Duke Energy fully transition from fossil fuel usage to renewable energy usage. Currently, in southwest Indiana, Duke runs some of the largest super-polluting coal power plants. Removing these power plants would positively impact air quality in Indiana and nationwide.


Any tips to people who don’t have time to become heavily involved in climate change but want to help?

Keep on signing petitions. Take the next step by texting, calling, or emailing government officials and others who can enforce change.


Integrate energy efficiency and water conservation into your home and lifestyle by running fewer loads of laundry, shorter showers, efficient light bulbs, and eat a climate-friendly diet.


I never thought I would be an activist. At the beginning of high school, I could not imagine myself as someone involved in climate activism. I encourage everyone to explore your interests and don’t hesitate to dive into your passions.


Climate-related movie or podcast recommendations?

A Plastic Ocean (2016 film) Examines the immense quantity of plastic pollution in our oceans and the detrimental effect it has on sea life.

Running On Climate (2015 film) A climate scientist runs for a political office to call attention to the climate crisis.

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