It’s Elementary: Wildlife Is Going Up in Smoke

The youth are not the future, they are here now.

But they will have to deal with the ramifications of what happens now in the future.

If they fail to speak out and raise awareness and enable action today, they stand to lose tomorrow to ignorance, apathy, and inaction.

Asher Jay, National Geographic Emerging Explorer

Creative Conservationist, Asher Jay, is one of ten young National Geographic explorers taking part in the Conference of Youth in Paris this week (see the full list of our explorers and coverage). You can follow her and the others at #COY11 as they gather to rally young people to action and advocacy around making bold steps to combat human contributions to climate change.

The youth-centered event leads up to COP21, the meeting of world leaders and representatives aiming to make similar commitments at the state and international levels.

For Asher and many of the young people gathering, their own meeting is in many ways the more important one. While leaders have been trying for more than two decades to create a major, binding pact, her generation has grown up frustrated with the older generation’s slowness to commit. That’s why young people are so eager to start conversations and make real changes themselves.

While she speaks passionately, Asher’s deepest calling is to create visual art. She uses those images to raise awareness and understanding and to inspire action in conservation. Take a look at the piece below which she made for #COY11, and tweet your own reflections using #COY11, #coolit, and tagging @natgeoexplorers.

When Sherlock Holmes thinks dispassionately and lengthily about a mystery, he usually comes up with a solution. While people today are puzzling over the mysteries of climate change and climate action, wildlife and landscapes are going up in smoke. (Illustration by Asher Jay)

Learn more about National Geographic explorers at COY11.


Human Journey


Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.