Students Demands Action in Climate Change Crisis


Photo Credit: Rapid Shift

Elias Giuliano, Contributor

        In the face of the ever-growing threat of humanity’s impact on the environment, a dedicated group of youth activists across the globe has decided to take matters into their own hands. On March 15, students in all grades from 40 countries around the world (including the US) opted to skip school to protest mankind’s involvement in accelerating climate change, and to push for legislative action regarding protecting the environment. Most of Northport’s protesters attended the Youth Climate Strike in New York City which was the most local branch of the overarching movement. According to several reputable researchers and scientific predictions, the effects of climate change may reach their worst within the next decade- something that the millions who took part in this protest don’t want to have to face. The climate strike movement aims to get politicians and business owners to take greater notice of this looming threat of climate catastrophe and hopes that those in charge begin to enact reforms accordingly.

The US Youth Climate Strike, the organization behind the protests here in the United States, was co-founded by three passionate young women who realized they needed to do something to clean up the environment: Isra Hirsi, Haven Coleman, and Alexandria Villaseñor. Since December, Villaseñor has skipped school every Friday to sit outside the UN’s Headquarters in Manhattan to demand action on climate change. The protest on March 15th was, in a way, just an extension of Villaseñor’s pre-existing weekly strike.

       Villaseñor’s protest was mainly inspired by another teenage activist named Greta Thurnburg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who, in the midst of her country’s parliamentary elections last year, skipped school for 3 weeks to sit outside of the parliament building with a sign protesting climate change. Her strike began to get more media attention in December of 2018, and at the UN’s COP 24 climate conference, she delivered a powerful speech to several world politicians. Her efforts have had a powerful effect on many people across the globe who are looking to get involved in climate protests in their own way.

         The primary group behind Northport’s own involvement in the climate strike was the NHS Environment Team, or E-team for short. One member of the E-team, AJ Loughlin, was in attendance at the NYC branch of the climate strike, which saw protesters marching up to city hall to demand legal action on climate change. “There were actually a lot of elementary schools there…it was really surprising that kids that young could understand that this [is] a problem.” The sheer volume and diversity of people who participated in the protest demonstrated how much these issues mean to so many people. On the way to city hall from Penn Station, the marchers also passed by some city schools that sent out groups of their own students and teachers to join the protest.

       A common notion among the protesters and a common response given toward people who criticized the protesters for cutting school was the idea that, if the Earth is ruined by climate change and becomes so severely polluted, then what’s the point of an education when as the Earth itself becomes uninhabitable, leaving the future generation with no way to remotely apply that knowledge? As mentioned before, some climate scientists have speculated that the effects of climate change will reach new heights in the next decade, and many people believe that addressing this environmental situation and teaching people about the problems our world is currently facing is far more of a necessity than any education a school could provide.

        Though the protest saw a massive outpouring of support and participation, it still fell somewhat short of what it hoped to achieve. The primary legislative act championed by the movement, the “Green New Deal”,  which promised to reduce funding of fossil fuel plants and reduce pollution from certain facilities, received no votes in favor of it in the Senate. As a result of this lack of action, the US Youth Climate Strike has vowed to host another protest on May 3rd. The front page of their website displays the message, “We strike again. May 3rd. Stay tuned.”

For more information, check out the website linked above, or Greta Thunburg’s own Twitter account here.