By Isra Hirsi, Haven Coleman, Alexandria Villaseñor | March 7, 2019
Editor’s note: The authors are the lead organizers of US Youth Climate Strike, part of a global student movement inspired by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg’s weekly school strikes in Sweden and other European countries.
We, the youth of America, are fed up with decades of inaction on climate change. On Friday, March 15, young people like us across the United States will strike from school. We strike to bring attention to the millions of our generation who will most suffer the consequences of increased global temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather. But this isn’t a message only to America. It’s a message from the world, to the world, as students in dozens of countries on every continent will be striking together for the first time.
For decades, the fossil fuel industry has pumped greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. Thirty years ago, climate scientist James Hansen warned Congress about climate change. Now, according to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global temperature rise, we have only 11 years to prevent even worse effects of climate change. And that is why we strike.
We strike to support the Green New Deal. Outrage has swept across the United States over the proposed legislation. Some balk at the cost of transitioning the country to renewable energy, while others recognize its far greater benefit to society as a whole. The Green New Deal is an investment in our future—and the future of generations beyond us—that will provide jobs, critical new infrastructure and most importantly, the drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions essential to limit global warming. And that is why we strike.
To many people, the Green New Deal seems like a radical, dangerous idea. That same sentiment was felt in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the New Deal—a drastic piece of legislation credited with ending the Great Depression that threatened (and cost) many lives in this country. Robber-barons, ordinary citizens, and many in between were enraged by the policies enacted by the New Deal. But looking back at how it changed the United States, it’s impossible to ignore that the New Deal brought an end to the worst economic disaster in history by creating fundamental programs like Social Security and establishing new regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Works Progress Administration mobilized workers across the nation to build important infrastructure—including thousands of schools—that has improved Americans’ everyday life for generations.
Change is always difficult, but it shouldn’t be feared or shied away from. Even for its detractors, Roosevelt’s New Deal ended up working out quite well. The United States led the world’s economy throughout the many decades since. The changes proposed in the Green New Deal will help ensure our entire species has the opportunity to thrive in the decades (and centuries) to come. As the original New Deal was to the declining US economy, the Green New Deal is to our changing climate. And that is why we strike.
The popular arguments against the Green New Deal include preposterous claims that it will ban airplanes, burgers, and cow flatulence—claims that are spread even by some of the most powerful leaders in our nation like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Although these outlandish claims are clearly false, they reveal a larger truth apparent in the American, and world, populations: Instead of taking action on the imminent threat of climate change, our leaders play political games. Because adults won’t take our future seriously, we, the youth, are forced to. And that is why we strike.
The alarming symptoms of Climate Denialism—a serious condition affecting both the hallways of government and the general population—mark our current historical crossroads of make-it-or-break-it action on climate change. Although there are many reasons for this affliction—such as difficulty grasping the abstract concept of a globally changed climate, or paralysis in the face of overwhelming environmental catastrophe—the primary mode of Climate Denialism contagion involves lies spouted by politicians, large corporations, and interest groups. People in power, like Senator McConnell and the Koch brothers, have used money and power to strategically shift the narrative on climate change and spread lies that allow themselves and other fossil fuel industry beneficiaries to keep the fortunes they’ve built on burning fossil fuels and degrading the environment.
The current US president is a rabid climate change denier himself. President Trump pulled out of the historic Paris Agreement and repeatedly tweets about weather phenomena that he claims somehow disprove the existence of climate change—despite the fact that his own administration has reported the facts of climate change and its impact on the United States.
We are also concerned that top Democrats demonstrate their own lack of urgency about the existential threat of climate change. California senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent dismissal of a group of schoolchildren visiting her office to beg her support for the Green New Deal was very disturbing for us young people. Feinstein will not have to face the consequences of her inaction on climate change. She suggested that the children one day run for the Senate themselves if they wish to pass aggressive climate legislation. Sadly, that may not be an option for us, if she and other Democrats, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, continue to dismiss the pleas of our generation. Faced with politicians on both sides of the aisle who belittle and ignore us, we’re forced to take a stand, and we’re doing it together on a global scale. And that is why we strike.
We strike because our world leaders haven’t acknowledged, prioritized, or properly addressed the climate crisis. We strike because marginalized communities across our nation—especially communities of color and low income communities—are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We strike because if the societal order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then influential adults will be forced to take note, face the urgency of the climate crisis, and enact change. With our future at stake, we call for radical legislative action—now—to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We strike for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100 percent renewable economy, and to stop creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure. We strike because we believe the climate crisis should be called what it really is: A national emergency, because we are running out of time.
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Quick to blame fossil fuels, but once again, the largest cause of greenhouse gases is ignored – the LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY.
If you REALLY want to make an impact and SAVE OUR PLANET STOP EATING YOUR BURGERS!
They cost exponentially more than plants to grow, raise, feed, slaughter, transport, package and distribute!!
So kill off all large animals? Livestock would pass (methane) gas even if they lived in the wild, and not used for food. Global warming is primarily the result of filling the Earth’s atmosphere with excessive amounts of soot and oil particles. This is caused by burning excessive amounts of fossil fuels. Nearly half the US contribution to global warming today is the result of our excessive use of privately-owned motor vehicles.
First of all, Leila is saying that the entirety of the livestock industry — feeding, slaughtering, transport, packaging, and distribution — is a large factor of global warming. Methane has less to do with the problem than the unsustainable and immoral practices of the livestock industry. Second, domesticated livestock we know today wouldn’t survive in the wild. There would be a much smaller population (and frankly more manageable for the natural environment) of animals that would live independently and sustainably. I’m not saying everyone should stop eating meat, but I 100% agree modern agricultural practices are not sustainable. There are… Read more »
False, do your research. Methane in toto is only about 20% of the problem. And a large, and poorly understood, portion of that is from leaks in the Oil industry.
How bout doing this.. instead of cutting classes on Friday (how convenient) they should show up on Saturday and refuse to leave until something is done about climate change. That would get much more attention and be far more disruptive.
I might be tempted to take them seriously if they had not planned their strike on a Friday!
Give them all an F for the day and detention. If they are serious about this then do it on a Sat. and give up their time on the weekend. Also did they all ride a bike or walk to and from their little protest? Do they walk to school or car pool? Easy to protest if you don’t have to comply. Also have them all give up their cars, I see a lot of cars in the school parking lot, are they really willing to do that for their cause or are they just making a show?
In a nutshell, exponential population growth, the elephant in the room.
Enough with this Climate Change term. It is too broad and absurd. Want to make a difference in the future? Become a scientist who discovers new cheap sources of energy that will compete well with oil and coal. Protest over the sale of bottled water. Develop cost-effective recycling that does not rely on China.
Develop a cost-effective, reusable pizza delivery box. Jamming government policy down our throats by people who think they know better is not going to work in this country.
Oh it will happen eventually once the damages get severe enough and the pressure intense enough that the entire world begins to buckle. Making such changes on such terms will be very bad indeed, should have done this 30 years ago on a global scale and it could have been a relatively smooth transition, to do this today in an effective manner will be difficult as the GND shows, to wait another 20 years will be disastrous. Choose your poison and keep in mind that additional delay means more toxicity, that’s the situation and what happens when people listen to… Read more »
I am a scientist from Stanford University. Climate change is real. It is serious. It is due to humans. And there are affordable, attractive, accessible, viable solutions. If you don’t like GND, then consider putting a price on carbon. This is what our American enterprise economists recommend. We must act. We are running out of time. There’s no time to waste telling children to enter a field that take so over decades to reach full career maturity to make significant impacts. This is not a reasonable solution.
Thank you, wise and young brave women acting on climate and insisting upon a long-overdue Green New Deal in the United States that will protect people, earthly life and future generations! Our federal government and most state governments have not taken anywhere near the level of action necessary to protect all from the rapidly-accelerating global warming crisis we are in. Our legislators and government officials have long had the knowledge that greenhouse gases would cause life-threatening climate change! In the U.S. and around the world, far more of us must rise up like never before to demand aggressive and effective… Read more »
The bad news is that we’re at heightened risk of going out by nuclear war. On the bright side, this would settle the global warming issue…
Actually not. Once the relatively short-term effects of aerosols and smoke dissipate, the massive amount of CO2 released by global fires will kick in, and warming will accelerate. And given the long half-life of CO2, it will be hundreds of years before the cessation of burning fossil fuels will start to slowly deduce the CO2 load. By that time human’s, maybe most higher animals will be gone.
Apparently many of you have not read up more on this project and automatically make assumptions after only reading a small portion of information, judging from many people’s comments. Greta has been doing this for a long time now. It has taken a very long time for this to be recognized and others to follow. She started doing it on fridays, sitting outside parliament when in session to bring awareness to the situation. The only reason Friday is being used is because Greta used this day in Britain to cause awareness. This is not being done to get out of… Read more »
Young people, especially young women, have a lot of power if they choose. They may reasonably conclude that it is irresponsible to bring more humans into a world that is entering a climate catasrophe. By refusing to procreate it would only take a few decades for the Earth’s population to enter an irreversible decline. Recognising this, those in power would pay attention; such a threat might finally lead them to take serious measures to avoid the coming climate catastrophe. Aristophanes, more than 2000 years ago, made the potential power of women visible through his play Lysistrata. At that time reliable… Read more »
These comments remind me of the story about the man who came to the Buddha to have an arrow removed. But first he wanted to know the history of the arrow, the man who shot it, who invented the arrow, etc.
For God’s sake people, the house is on fire, and those who have the most to lose, our children, have noticed. So what is the best that readers of the Bulletin can do? Quibble. Shame.
For God’s sake people, the house is on fire – this comment – thanks Allan! – is one of few reasonable ones. it is about our children, we deprive them of a future, of a breathable air, of a right to live in conditions which do not hurt. but many prefer to ignore or whitewash facts – but lame excuses can’t change the reality that we need green to breathe, normal temperature and other natural factors to survive. many numb themselves by diving into merrymaking & pleasures, at cost of all of us! we are all in ONE boat, there… Read more »
Yes thank you! I’m reading a lot of comments saying this isn’t a good way to advocate, or this won’t do anything, or that kids are just skipping school, but we are at a point where any action for climate justice is needed!! This is a crucial step towards raising more awareness about the issue. Young people getting involved is awesome and frankly necessary because we are the ones being effected by the poor choices made by the generations before us.
Shame on All of you that are Attacking and Voicing the Intent is to just Skip School…..The “Reason” why the March is on a Friday is that’s the Day Greta Thunberg Raised Awareness in Britain on this Day, and She has been Doing this on Fridays in her Homeland…..
Dear dear fine young people, It turns out that like more things, Climate change is more complicated Turns out that young people are the reason that Old White Men rule in this country http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/demographics Good intentions and inspiring words are vital, and God-bless you for them BUT, practical action is required to get things done. Get EVERY 18 year old in this country registered by 2020 elections Get EVERY person 18-30 years of age to vote in 2020 elections and you will be able to take over the country. And while you are at it, get them to vote in… Read more »
To be honest, I feel like all of this protesting is super inspiring, but if nothing gets done, what’s the point? You can talk to global leaders all you want, but if you can’t find a solution, then it is useless. There must be a solution in order to fix this problem. Suggest that people should get paid to plant trees, like people are currently doing in China. In order to have change, you MUST have a solution.