“We, children and students, don’t feel like we have a choice: it’s been years of talking, countless negotiations, empty deals on climate change, fossil fuel companies being given free rides to drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit. We have learned that if we don’t start acting for our future, nobody else will make the first move. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” – Greta Thunberg, 16-year-old climate activist
In one of the largest environmental actions in history, a massive school strike took place on Friday, May 24 demanding governments take urgent action to address the climate crisis. An estimated 1.5 million students—more than 4000 events in over 125 countries—walked out of schools and colleges and took to the streets on the premise that the only way to ensure the planet has a liveable climate in the future is to disrupt their daily lives now.
The inspiration for these strikes came from Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who began picketing on her own in front of Sweden’s Parliament in August 2018, first protesting for two weeks, and then on every Friday since. Her protest first took hold with students across Sweden and then spread across Europe and around the world under the banner #FridaysforFuture.
On March 15, an estimated 1.6 million people participated in a coordinated global student strike in 133 countries, including students in Arcata.
The growing school strike movement has attracted the attention of leading scientists, academics, authors, critical thinkers, and activists such as Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Margaret Atwood, and Noam Chomsky. Sixty of these supporters were signatories on an article published by the Guardian on May 24 supporting the movement.
The date of the next coordinated global climate strike has also been announced—September 20 (which happens to be the day before another important environmental day of action, International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 21). The strike is not just for students, however. Everyone is encouraged to participate and show solidarity by walking out of homes, schools, and workplaces to demand urgent action on climate change. This will lead off a week of actions around the world, in the hopes that the tide will turn and governments will start taking the threat of climate change seriously.
Thunberg was recently featured on the cover of TIME magazine, along with nine other activists. “This is not about truancy or civil disobedience, this is about the climate and the ecological crisis,” said Thunberg. “People need to understand that.”
What we do now matters. The younger generations know that their futures and the futures of those yet to come are dependent upon adults behaving as if climate change is an urgent emergency, right now—because it is.