School Strike for Climate, March 15
By Sadie F.
Across the globe, many young people are taking the streets instead of attending classes to demand legislative action to prevent climate change. It started in Sweden with Greta Thunberg, who started the School Strike for Climate, and has spread to Germany, the United Kingdom, Uganda, France, Ireland, Thailand, Columbia and Poland. Activists have been connecting on social media through #FridaysForFuture and other movements.
Our generation is motivated by the realization that climate change is our reality. This is in stark contrast with the less intense and more distant view of climate change held by many adults and the governments they run. This generational difference is highlighted by a viral video of Senator Dianne Feinstein in which she failed to empathize with a group of students asking for her support of the Green New Deal. Although most adults acknowledge climate change as one of the most important issues of our time, no one seems to have taken any direct action to show that. Somehow many people fail to internalize the effects of climate change. The distant image of climate change, a far off issue that will harm our great-great-great-grandchildren, fails to make climate change urgent. And without this urgency, there will not be the progress we need. Youth, however, have more motivation to act.
In my lifetime, I have seen a campfire turn to a wildfire because of drought, hurricanes and tropical storms amplified by warmer water temperatures and coastal flooding. If we continue emitting greenhouse gases at this rate, I will be 35 when the IPCC predicted that we will cross the 1.5-degree warming they say becomes dangerous. I can see how it affects my safety and health, and so can many other people like me. The question activists should be asking is, how can we maximize the energy of young people to make a difference?
One of the most noble goals of youth protests should be to bring climate change to the attention of the world. Media plays an important role in how we formulate our opinions, and to make just, educated decisions around climate change the media needs to accurately display information on climate change. Greta Thunberg, climate strike organizer, in her TED Talk, says that she was confused because if climate change really were so bad then…. “As soon as you’d turn on the TV, everything would be about that. Headlines, radios, newspapers, you would never read or hear about anything else, as if there were a world war going on.” But that’s not how it is. Why? If there really were the kind of news coverage that climate change deserves, then maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to care about it. It would dissociate the image of a floating polar from climate change and shift the focus onto solutions and action.
Young people bring a new important urgency that can help drive change. On March 15 students across the globe will mobilize to strike (here is a map of strikes). Although I have my doubts as to the impact that this will have on politicians, the media coverage will motivate the citizens of the world to make changes in their own lives. Even if politicians don’t listen, the rest of the world will.