Youth Protests Heat Up Over Climate Change

On September 20, DPS and RHS students joined hundreds of activists in Raleigh to strike against political inaction on the issue of climate change. 

The strike was a part of a worldwide movement started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg. 

Young people have been on the forefront of climate change activism for the past couple years. While very few Riverside students attended, those who did found the experience meaningful. 

“I think [the strikes] definitely drew more attention and that was their main goal,” said Sophomore Hannah Bernhardt. …

In the past few months, social media has seen a wave of posts about climate change activism. Throughout 2018, many people began supported the “Save the turtles” movement by using metal straws instead of plastic straws. Many restaurants now only give straws upon request.

Around two weeks after the Amazon rainforest caught on fire, it made headlines in the U.S.A. and across the world. A piece of the forest roughly the size of New Jersey was in flames. The lack of government action, both in Brazil and abroad, towards putting out the fires infuriated many people and moved them to use social media to spread the word on climate change. 

The Amazon fires and the “Save the turtles” movement may have shined a spotlight on the issue, but scientists have expressed concerns about human-caused climate change, especially global warming, since the 1980s, and have known about its theoretical occurrence since the 1800s. 

According to NASA’s findings, the average surface temperature on Earth has risen 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. The five hottest recorded years have occured after 2010. As a result, the rate of Antarctica ice melting has tripled within the last decade. As a result of the ice melt, global sea levels have risen 8 inches within the past 2 decades. 

 “Some say we are waiting for science to prove climate change, but it has already been proven,” said Bernhardt. 

“We are decades behind the curve,” said Riverside media center coordinator Kate Mester. Environmental protection is not anywhere close to where it needs to be.”

Many young people are concerned about the increasing evidence that climate change is occurring and will hurt people even more in the future. Those present at the strikes were angry about government and adult inaction. 

  “I think the main message behind this strike is that we as youth shouldn’t have to do this because this problem should already have been solved,” said Bernhardt. 

[Stories of Jamie Margolin and Greta Thunberg leading protests around globe]:

[Interview 1]: Hannah Bernhardt

What do you think the purpose of youth activism is?

“I think it’s to draw attention and I think the main message behind this strike is that we as youth shouldn’t have to do this because this problem should already have been solved.”

Do you think the climate strikes were effective? Why/why not?

“I think they definitely drew more attention and that was their main goal.”

End goal differs for different ppl, some want green new deal

Do you think climate activism now will make an impact?

“I don’t think we are doing enough.”

“Some say we are waiting for science to prove climate change, but it has already been proven.”

[Interview 2]: Kate Mester

What do you think the purpose of youth activism is? Do you approve of school strikes?

If there is a purpose like the walk out and it is to make a point, yes. The point of the climate strikes was to be disruptive and force attention. Polite activism isn’t activism.” “You guys are the change.”

What do you think of the state of climate activism? Is it effective?

“We are decades behind the curve. Environmental protection is not anywhere close to where it needs to be.”

“Most major environmental legislation was passed in the 70s, and either hasn’t been updated or has been regressed.”

“Science is real!”

What do you think of Greta?

“The GOAT. I’m very impressed that she and her family are so honest about her autism.”

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