I imagined the day would prove to be rather uneventful. The gray dome that commands the sky almost all day was encouraging folks into the comfort of home; so it seemed to me like a good time for me to catch up on a little reading, fix a pot of hot tea and hang around the house like a lout. Or so I thought.
A quick walk to Parque de la Madre proved me wrong. The blustery Friday was no match for the dedicated students determined to save the planet and their own lives.
It appeared that every high school and college in the region was represented by eager students who joined others around the world to demand climate action. With the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment forecasting the disastrous effects of climate change in the next few decades, these students maintain that the time to act is way past due and immediate, sustained action is required now.
“Older people think climate change is a problem in the distant future but that is not true. We are the generation that has to deal with the burden of climate change because it is our lives that will be most affected. We know the early effects of climate change are already here,” said a marcher carrying a sign promoting rapid response to what the marchers know is a looming catastrophe.
“I want to involve myself as much as I can and do everything I can because we’re trying to save the earth,” said another marcher.
The students are well aware of the more terrifying effects of climate change. They and we can read about it daily in mainstream newspapers and social media. Greater and greater swaths of land are already unable to support food production due to the overheating landscape while wildly unpredictable weather patterns are wreaking havoc on entire communities. Miami Beach comes to mind as do the lowlands of Bangladesh.
Adding to the emergency is the collapse of ecosystems that are decimating insect and animal populations worldwide. The evolutionary chain is missing too many pieces to successfully make the leap of adaptation; wholesale extinction of plant and animal life has become a matter fact. To suggest otherwise is nothing more than willful ignorance supported by avarice.
Although college students have historically led the charge for social justice, it increasingly seems that high school students are stepping up and carrying the mantle of advocacy for change, too. And, well they should. Their future is at stake.
This powerful global movement began as a single act of civil disobedience by a very brave girl. Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg staged a lone school strike to protest climate inaction for months, sitting in from of the Swedish parliament every Friday. Her protest inspired the Fridays for the Future campaign, which quickly attracted mass media attention and earned a following from teens. The youth climate strike movement has since spread around the world, earning Thunberg a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
She deserves it.