by Kelly Martella ’21
On Sep. 20, millions of young people around the world went outside instead of going into their classrooms. These students did not skip school for a laidback day of relaxation, though. Rather, they chose to take part in one of the largest marches in history: the Global Climate Strike.
An estimated four million people participated in the strike, and marches were held in over 150 countries across all seven continents—including Antarctica.
Protests were also held locally in Providence. Over 1,000 people organized a strike and protested throughout the capitol city.
The cause was championed by sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began protesting last year in her native Stockholm. She sat outside the Swedish Parliament Building with a sign reading “school strike for the climate,” skipping school every Friday until the government took action against climate change.
Her social media posts documenting the protest began receiving attention, and the movement—which became known as “Fridays for Future”—gained support. The growth is clearly visible on social media. Thunberg was alone in her first strike in Sep. 2018; however, on Sept. 21, she was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people in New York City.
Thunberg has become the face of a movement largely led by the younger generations. She represents the frustration many feel at those in power who are not concerend, many of whom may not live to see the consequences of their inaction. Relating back to the school strike, Thunberg asks, “Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”
The general sentiment from the day was that the movement’s growth was a positive step forward, but there are still many to be taken on this journey.
Thunberg spoke of this at a previous protest, saying, “Even though this movement has become huge and there have been millions of children and young people who have been on strike from school for the climate, the emission curve is still not reducing… and of course that is all that matters.”
This sense of urgency was evident during Friday’s strike. Many protesters believe humanity is facing a life-or-death situation and everyone needs to realize the gravity of the issue at hand.
Protestors will not stop until a safe future is guaranteed, and as Thunberg told the crowd, “We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse, even if it means skipping school or work, because this is more important.” If the crowd’s reaction when Thunberg asked if a safe future is “really too much to ask” is any indication, then the call for change will not be silenced any time soon.