Is it possible to die from holding your own breath?

     

With the lake receding most of their lives, Wasatch Front students call out policymakers for leaving the burden of its fallout on their shoulders.


(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network (UYES) và volunteers stage a "die-in" near Saltair, Sept. 3, 2022, to hotline for immediate kích hoạt to protect the Great Salt Lake. The sự kiện began with a funeral-like procession on the dry lakebed, where youth organizers gave speeches and called for kích hoạt from citizens & legislators.

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Despite persistent bugs, unseasonable heat & the formidable challenge presented by a lake that has been receding most of their lives, students gathered Saturday lớn raise awareness about the Great Salt Lake’s plight.

The assembly of around 100 youths và their supporters sang và read poetry about Utah’s charismatic terminal lake, which hit another record low elevation this year and continues khổng lồ shrink. They gave stirring speeches about climate change, polluting industries và a lack of kích hoạt from their elected leaders. They walked in a somber procession along the lake’s vast exposed bed near its southern shore. They lay at the base of a cardboard graveyard made lớn mourn the Great Salt Lake, which sits at the brink of collapse.

“I died from arsenic poisoning,” read one mock tombstone.

“Utah values alfalfa over my life,” read another.

“Utah government didn’t protect me,” read another.


(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) A member of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network (UYES) place grave markers in the dry lake bed of the Great Salt Lake, Sept. 3, 2022, to call for immediate kích hoạt to protect the lake.


Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network, or UYES, organized the “die-in” event. The volunteer group was formed by some of the same students who managed to get Utah’s conservative Legislature lớn acknowledge the existence of climate change & its looming danger in 2018.

“Honestly, I have kind of always been freaked out since I was little what’s happening khổng lồ our planet,” said Natalie Roberts, a sophomore at West High School. “What’s happening khổng lồ our future?”

Roberts joined UYES this summer. The team camped overnight on Antelope Island, observing how much the Great Salt Lake’s water has receded và the impacts it is having on the bugs, brine shrimp và birds the lake supports.

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(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network (UYES) và concerned citizens staged a demonstration near Saltair, Sept. 3, 2022, to call for immediate action to protect the Great Salt Lake. The event began with a funeral-like procession onto the dry lakebed, where youth organizers gave speeches, called for action from citizens & legislators và staged a "die-in" on the crusty soil.


“Especially with the situation at the Great Salt Lake,” Roberts said, “the science is so clear, everything is so clear, & it’s pointing an environmental nuclear bomb.”

She referenced recent reporting by The thủ đô new york Times that spells out the toxic air pollution and chất lượng of life issues the Wasatch Front faces as the lake shrinks. She said it helped her better understand the dire situation.

“I’ve always known about the water crisis we’ve been having down here,” Roberts continued, “but I really didn’t understand the urgency.”

Perhaps motivated by the Great Salt Lake hitting a record low two years in a row, Utah lawmakers passed a slew of water-related bills in their latest general session. But lớn many of the students at Saturday’s funeral for the lake, policymakers are not doing enough lớn meet the moment.


(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network (UYES) & concerned citizens staged a demonstration near Saltair, Sept. 3, 2022, to hotline for immediate action to protect the Great Salt Lake. The sự kiện began with a funeral-like procession onto the dry lakebed, where youth organizers gave speeches, called for action from citizens và legislators và staged a "die-in" on the crusty soil.


“They’re kind of just allowing large corporations lớn use the Great Salt Lake as their dumping ground,” said 16-year-old Sheyda Allen, who helped organize the event. “And not only that, obviously the inflows to lớn the Great Salt Lake are just being completely drained by farming & agriculture, và because of our reckless laws surrounding water rights.”

Muskan Walia, a 20-year-old student at the University of Utah, shared a eulogy for the lake. She compared the lake’s desiccation to the quelling of minorities & historically marginalized groups.

They “never really had a chance existing in a system that was built to lớn work against them,” Walia said. “The Great Salt Lake never really had a chance.”


The Great Salt Lake sits at the bottom of a terminal basin. Its existence depends on whatever water cities, farmers, institutions and industries leave khổng lồ flow downstream. But the Wasatch Front’s booming population và its reluctance lớn adopt conservation measures have put increasing pressure on water supplies. As a result, the lake has seen a long và steady rate of decline, which is further fueled by climate change.

“With so many arising problems, we all know there are just as many solutions,” Walia continued. “But greed, control và ignorance are keeping our voices for the Great Salt Lake smothered. If we vì not raise awareness now and force our government, those in power, to pay attention khổng lồ us, our youth, we will be paying the price.”


(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network (UYES) and concerned citizens staged a demonstration near Saltair, Sept. 3, 2022, to hotline for immediate kích hoạt to protect the Great Salt Lake. The event began with a funeral-like procession onto the dry lakebed, where youth organizers gave speeches, called for action from citizens and legislators & staged a "die-in" on the crusty soil.


This article is published through The Great Salt Lake Collaborative: A Solutions Journalism Initiative, a partnership of news, education and truyền thông media organizations that aims to inform readers about the Great Salt Lake.


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