Saturday, March 16, 2019

Unprecedented Global School Strikes for Climate Action

On Friday March 15th millions of students in 2,000 cities around the world came together to peacefully demand climate action. Young people in at least 123 countries protested the inaction of government officials and called for immediate climate action. The students are asking governments to declare a climate emergency, and they also want to see more education about climate change and the environmental crisis. The movement know as "Fridays for Future" was launched by Greta Thunberg. Although her efforts have been rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination she remains focused on the only metric that matters, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the slogans brandished by protestors included, "Youth vs. Apocalypse," "Denial is not policy," "We're missing lessons to teach you one," "The clock is ticking and time is against us," "We are the last generation that can fix this," and "The oceans are rising, so are we.”

Protests took place in London, Paris, Lisbon, Milan, Rome, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Elmshorn, Prague, Warsaw, Sydney, Wellington, Seoul, Hong Kong, and hundreds of other cites around the world. In Canada there were protests in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Regina and Vancouver. Protests also took place across the US from New York to San Francisco.

Twelve year-old Haven Coleman from Colorado, brought Greta’s movement to the US along with 13-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor and 16-year-old Isra Hirsi. As reported by The Verge, Coleman calls out older people for their failure to act. "I am going to use every second," she says. "I’m going to try to get every voice and every person to act."

American protestors are calling for support for the Green New Deal. NBC quoted John Barry, a professor of green political economy at Queen's University Belfast who lauded student efforts saying they are in it for the long haul. "In criticizing the Trump administration and backing a Democrat-led proposal that may alienate some youth, the movement has showed that it is politically adept," Barry said. He also said young people's facility with digital media has contributed to an unprecedented global movement.

Scientists have challenged Trump and the GOP's climate denial and they have marched in support of climate action. In a Scientific American article  they offered their support for the Climate Strike saying the actions of these students are backed by the best available science while noting that world leaders are not doing enough to address the climate crisis.

"We, the March for Science, an international community of scientists, science advocates, teachers, and parents, emphatically support the Global Youth Climate Strike. We commit to doing whatever we can to lift up the voices of young people and encourage their leadership. Their generation will be greatly impacted by the effects of climate change. It is critical that their voices are heard."

The article characterizes the activism of young people as a "wonderful asset" saying they are doing "exactly what is needed" and tens of thousands of scientists have signed letters expressing their solidarity with the Climate Strike.  Scientists, academics and teachers organizations have all expressed support for the student protests.

"We strike for our future," Greta tweeted."And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes. Adults are welcomed to join us."

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