Today’s Solutions: January 31, 2023

After learning that bees in her neighborhood were being wiped out by mosquito pesticides, 11-year-old Illinois resident Scarlett Harper didn’t hesitate to take action by launching a campaign to save them.

Not afraid of bees or asking lawmakers to support a bill protecting the vital pollinators, Harper started a campaign to restrict the use of pesticides that can hurt them. After calling up lawmakers to ask them to join the fight, Harper was able to secure 22 co-sponsors — and so the “Bee Bill,” officially known as Illinois HB 3118, came into being.

The bill — which made it out of the state’s Energy and Environment Committee with a unanimous 29-0 vote — aims to restrict mosquito control pesticides that can be lethal to bees. “Bees are completely vital to humans,” said Harper. “They pollinate a third of our food supply, and without them, we really can’t survive.”

According to her parents, Harper has developed a passion for the environment at an early age, when she realized her love of gardening. When she was nine, she learned of a plan in her town to cut down trees for a construction project, which prompted her to join her town’s Environmental Forestry Commission and speak to officials to try and stop the project.

Although Harper is much younger than most people fighting to pass new legislation, she said she sees her age as an advantage:

“As a kid trying to make an impact stopping the climate crisis, I have been lucky to be given a little extra leeway to be blunt and impatient with how slow progress is,” she said. “I realized that early on and started using my voice to state the elephant in the room. Instead of thinking of my age as a disadvantage, I try to use it as a tool, because I’m a little bit younger. I can not get bogged down in what might go wrong.”

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