By Violet Barron and Rhea Madhogarhia
Picture this: It’s August 2018. Greta Thunberg, an unknown youth activist, is skipping school for the first of many Fridays to come. The youth climate movement as we know it would never be the same. Thunberg’s mission captivates the world, and a one-woman strike would grow into a global climate movement over the course of 2019. Now back to present day: It’s September 25, 2020, School strike week 110. Two weeks ago, Fridays for the Future and the youth climate movement led their annual global climate strike -- socially-distanced of course -- undeterred by COVID-19. Residents from over 3,500 towns and 154 countries participated in the strike, as nothing, not even a global pandemic, could distract from the fierce fight for climate justice.
From September 20th to September 27th of last year, otherwise known as “Week for Future,” around 7.6 million people participated in climate strikes around the world to fight to take urgent action against the climate crisis. Although affecting attendance at the strikes, COVID-19 did not stop the thousands of people who gathered to protest and strike for this unified cause.
With safety at the forefront of their minds, the strikers mainly protested in small groups rather than congregating in one large demonstration; some even brought their events online. For example, a strike led by Thunberg this past week in Sweden was limited to a mere 50 people, a drastic difference from the nearly 60,000 people that showed up to hear her speak at the strike in New York City last year. Similarly, around 60 students in Indianapolis marched to protest environmental racism. Chanting Breonna Taylor’s name, they pushed to make known that environmental justice is an important part of racial justice. A high school senior, Temi Osuntokun shares, “The environmental effects of climate change are disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities … so I think it just supports that narrative that this country doesn’t place enough value on black and brown lives.” On the other hand, digital climate strikes could amass thousands of people. The Digital Climate Strike encouraged sites to replace their usual content with a full screen banner to encourage site visitors to join the cause.
As the movement recognizes, climate change will not resolve itself and it is the responsibility of the people to urge those in charge to take action. These global climate strikes, both digital and on the streets, have shown the tenacity and liveliness of the movement and the willingness of the next generation to tackle the issues that our world has previously failed to address. If we do not take action NOW, there will no longer be a planet to take action ON.
your co writers,
Violet and Rhea <3