Student Led Protests Highlight Climate Change


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Young demonstrators hold placards as they attend a climate change protest organised by “Youth Strike 4 Climate”, opposite the Houses of Parliament in central London on February 15, 2019. – Hundreds of young people took to the streets to demonstrate Friday, with some of them having gone on strike from school, as part of a global youth action over climate change. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Emerson Marquez, Opinions Editor

Students in more than 100 countries skipped school on March 15 to protest against the inaction by world leaders on the issue of climate change.

The protests started last summer in Sweden when 16-year-old Greta Thunberg started to camp outside the Swedish parliament. She accused the Swedish lawmakers of not taking enough action against climate change. She held a sign saying “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (School strike for the climate). This one woman’s protest sparked one of the largest ongoing protests against climate change. Students from around the globe have been skipping school every Friday to protest the inaction on climate change.

Photo Courtsy: The Guardian – Greta Thunberg protesting outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, August 2018

The largest protests so far were on March 15 when tens of thousands of students around the world rallied at their local schools or town halls. In the United States, there were strikes in more than 100 cities, including Los Angeles where students across the county gathered at city hall to demand swift action against climate change. Protests were held in countries ranging from India, to the United Kingdom. In Berlin, students chanted,”We are here, we are loud, because you are stealing our future.”

In Washington D.C., students took part in a 11 minute silence: one minute for each year we have left before things become disastrous based on a UN report. According to this report, if human-generated greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the planet will reach a temperature that is 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.would put the planet at a greater risk of events like extreme drought, wildfires, floods, and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Photograph: Nic Bothma. In Cape Town, South Africa a student holds up a sign reading “our planet is dying stop lying”

After the protests took place Greta Thunberg was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize by three Norwegian law makers. Thunberg spoke at a rally in Sweden saying that climate change is an “existential crisis” that’s been “ignored for decades by those that have known about it.” One of the US protest organizers, Haven Coleman, told Vice,“I’m not going to leave my future in the hands of people who aren’t doing anything. We’re already seeing the effects [of climate change], you can see it everywhere. You might even see it in your backyard… We’re just trying to survive.”

Some of the officials from countries that protests have taken place in have expressed concerns that students are wasting valuable class time or increasing teachers workloads by not attending school. The Prime Minister of the UK, Teresa May expressed these concerns when she said student absence, “increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time.” Greta Thunberg responded to her comments on Twitter when she tweeted, “British PM says that the children on school strike are “wasting lesson time.” That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 years of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

Photo Courtesy: The Guardian. The sign reads,”The climate is more hopeless than my high school graduation”

According to the Youth Climate Strike, these are their demands:

  • A national embrace of the Green New Deal.
  • An end to fossil fuel infrastructure projects. a national emergency declaration on climate change.
  • Mandatory education on climate change and its effects from K-8.
  • A clean water supply.
  • Preservation of public lands and wildlife.
  • All government decisions to be tied to scientific research.

According to the Youth Climate Strike website another strike is scheduled for May 3.