4 Students Share Why They’re Striking For The Climate - The Years Project

4 Students Share Why They’re Striking For The Climate

By Maggie Badore

Across the globe on September 20, people of all ages will be joining the strikes that started as a student walk-out. Unions, nonprofits and companies are voicing their support for these massive strikes, but young people remain the spearhead of the movement. We spoke with four of Our Climate’s spokespeople from around the U.S. about why they’ll be striking. Our Climate is a non-profit that mobilizes and empowers young people to educate the public and elected officials about science-based, equitable climate policy solutions.

Some replies have been edited for clarity and length. 

Brittni McGuire, Nebraska

Where will you be striking?

I am striking in Omaha, Nebraska at the city hall in the morning and at the State Capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska in the afternoon.

Why are you striking?

I am striking because I don’t want my species to be the reason other species go extinct and I am completely uninterested in living in a world without virgin forests, true wilderness, and harmony between humans and nature. I am striking because, to put it frankly, it makes me sick that many of the leaders of my state push climate change to the side by “denying” it. I am striking because climate change is a global problem with local solutions, and I know we won’t have a livable future unless local communities all over the world do their part. Nebraska is not excluded from this. I am striking to put pressure on my elected officials and demand that they reciprocate the grassroots action happening in our state by taking state level climate action. I am striking to spread a culture within Nebraska that stands up to the climate crisis and embraces the changes we need to make in order to bring that sustainable future I dream of to fruition. I am striking for all of the young leaders out there putting their education and future career on hold, and sacrificing their mental health to create change and beg our leaders to do SOMETHING. I’m striking because I can’t pay attention in my classes when all I can think about is how to get my state to take action, instead of standing on the sidelines while communities are under water, forests are burning, and species go extinct. Finally, I am striking because I believe in us. 

How has climate change affected your area?

Nebraska is built on agriculture. The way agriculture has been done the past 100 years had degraded our soil and resulted in a high-input, fragile system. We saw that this past spring with the floods. Many farmers’ fields are still under water. As the climate becomes increasingly unstable, and weather becomes more unpredictable, I am worried that our current agricultural system will not be able to bounce back. That is why we are demanding that our state leaders pass policy that supports farmers in their transition to regenerative agriculture. We can turn farming into a solution to carbon change by encouraging systems that store carbon in the soil.

Charlotte Stuart-Tilley, Florida 

Where will you be striking?

I will be striking on the steps of Florida’s Historic Capitol Building.

How has climate change affected your area?

Living in Florida’s panhandle, we were struck really hard by Hurricane Michael. It devastated many small towns and counties in my area, and the impact was huge. With climate change, hurricanes will only get worse and more frequent, causing more destruction.

Why are you striking?

I am striking for my future, my children’s future, and the future of our planet.

Izzy Goodrich, Massachusetts 

Where will you be striking?

The event begins at the Boston City Hall Plaza, and will kick off a week of youth led climate activities. 

Why are you striking?

I am striking as one of the spokespeople of the national nonprofit Our Climate, as a high school student from Boston, and as a member from a generation tasked with dealing with the most pressing disaster of our age. I chose to take school off this Friday to join the strike because climate change is the single most devastating catastrophe the human race has ever faced, and youth activists who primarily will be faced with the problem, and who will be tasked with voting for and becoming the next politicians and legislators who will pass new laws on environmental protection, are the most crucial members to be in attendance. While I wouldn’t normally encourage students to miss school, attending strikes and climate events like these are sometimes more important than missing one day at school, considering that we are fighting for our homes, futures, and the right to live safely. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights that we will not allow man made climate change to infringe upon. We are the ones to inherit the climate crisis, the ones to vote into office the next politicians, to pass the next legislation ourselves on climate change and environmental policy. As the new constituents of politicians who will work on climate policy, we need to show them that this is the number one issue that young Americans care about, and that we will not tolerate inaction in this regard.

What climate change action would you like to see in your area?

While working for OurClimate, I have attended two Youth Lobby Days at the Massachusetts State House to lobby for Representative Benson’s Carbon Pricing bill. This is an issue that I and other youth activists have been working for in my home state of Massachusetts. My goal is to see Massachusetts once again lead the country towards progressive politics, this time in the area of carbon pricing.

Summer Dean, California

Where will you be striking? 

I will be striking in Los Angeles, California.

What are the local climate impacts in your area that you’re most concerned about?

The fossil fuel industry played a huge role in the development of Los Angeles, and its ties are deeply and structurally rooted in the city as we know it today. Today, Los Angeles has the largest urban oil field in the country, and there are thousands of urban oil drilling sites within and around the greater Los Angeles area. The communities around these sites suffer from poor air quality and toxic chemicals leaching into the soil and air, and suffer from cancer and other sicknesses. I’m deeply concerned about those communities. If we want to fight for true climate justice and do our part in California to stop climate change, shutting down all fossil fuel infrastructure, including all urban oil drilling sites, is a must. 

Why are you striking?

I’m striking because I have been worried about climate change for nearly all of my life, but didn’t quite know what to do about it. I think many people forget that my generation grew up in the midst of environmental destruction and the 6th mass extinction, which is a very strange period to grow up in. I always had this feeling of panic when I thought about how much we were destroying our environment around the world. Until recently, I felt pretty powerless and anxious, because for me, a life without nature and clean air and water isn’t life worth living. What I didn’t realize growing up was that we’ve always had the power to change things, and today that power has never been so strong and clear. For years I had hope that progressive governments would adopt strong environmental policies, but corruption and greed halted it every single time at the expense of my generation’s lives. And now we’ve run out of time for incremental changes. As Greta Thunberg says, we can’t solve this crisis until we accept that it is an emergency. As someone who has been involved with the Sunrise Movement for a few years now, I’ve seen organizing and civil disobedience work. I know that mass civil disobedience will save our planet and bring us the future we deserve, so I hope you can join us this Friday!