By Alex Janower, Guest writer from the Environmental Action Club (EAC) Class III
On Friday, September 20, I attended the Youth Climate Strike along with 7,000 other protestors in Boston and 6.6 million total participants in 800 such strikes worldwide, all organized by teens under the age of 20. In Boston, the protestors assembled outside the City Hall Plaza in order to formally issue three demands: 1. Governor Charlie Baker declare a statewide climate emergency; 2. Massachusetts stop using fossil fuels and stop building infrastructure to support it; and 3. Lawmakers pass policies that help people who live in already poor and polluted areas and that ease our transition smoothly into the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is proposed legislation that reduces the United States’ carbon footprint, protects vulnerable communities from the climate crisis, and creates environmentally sound jobs.
At the Boston Youth Climate Strike, two of my friends and I were privileged to meet a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal: Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. Though we were excited to meet Senator Markey, we were even more inspired by our conversations with ordinary students. I asked one boy about his sign that read, “I’m 17 and I have to watch the world die before I get the chance to live,” and we discussed the Dead Sea, vanilla farms, the Euphrates and Tigris river deltas, and other natural features that may only be accessible via history textbooks a decade from now.
Another kid, around eight years old, held a drawing of a globe with a thermometer between its lips and told us about a cyclone that devastated her Bahamanian cousins. From the podium, young speakers such as Jeremy Ornstein and Ahria Ilyas urged young protestors to take action and acknowledged Greta Thunberg, who addressed a similar crowd in New York City that same day.
16-year-old Thunberg grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, where she became deeply concerned by worldwide climate inaction and frightened by its implications. In protest against legislative passivity, Thunberg skips school every Friday afternoon and sits outside the Swedish parliament. A year of this routine, “Skolstrejk for Klimatet,” has called attention to the Swedish sensation as a passionate reformer and an eloquent speaker. She has since spoken around the world in front of influential politicians.
Most recently, Thunberg addressed the UN Climate Summit on Monday, September 23. “This is wrong,” she started. “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school, on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words…” She accused her audience of failing her generation and victims all over the world, despite the science presenting the urgency of our climate’s situation. Her voice shook with suppressed rage. Her stinging speech concluded with her recurring quote: “Change is coming, whether you like it or not.” Her message: urgent legal action is imperative to the ongoing battle against climate change.
Thunberg’s message deeply resonates with me, so I relished the opportunity to strike alongside people who share my values and influence legal matters even though I’m not old enough to vote. I hope to persuade members of the Nobles community to defend our future like Greta Thunberg has inspired me. In her words: “you are never too small to make a difference.”