Rising Up

To keep temperatures and sea levels from rising, young people took to the streets around the world — and sent a potent message to politicians.

September 21, 2019

2:49 pm

“When leaders act like kids, kids act like leaders.” That was one of the more resounding messages conveyed by more than 4 million protestors who took part in more than 4,500 climate strikes in more than 150 countries around the world yesterday.

The strikes were coordinated by a number of nonprofit organizations, from the Future Coalition and Fridays for Future to 350 and Earth Uprising.

The overall effort was intended to send a clear and decisive memo to global leaders, businesses, and their fellow citizens: that we need to take drastic action to stop rising global temperatures.

For those that don’t know, the increased planetary temperature has led to climate change, which has transmuted into a climate crisis. Melting polar ice sheets and glaciers pose a threat of rising global sea levels, as high as 20 feet, which could inundate coastal populations. Erratic and ever-more dangerous storms have pounded the Caribbean, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Fires have devastated communities all over the world.

Fed up with government inaction, the global strikes were a manifestation of the rising power of young people, who led the way in not only raising their voices in streets from Berlin to Bangkok, Seoul to San Salvador, but also by leading by example.

Young people like Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist whose Friday school strikes have launched a global revolution of young climate activists. Thunberg was in New York, where she led the march of what police estimate was 250,000 strikers, and where she spoke at a day-ending rally, noting that “Our house is on fire.”

When asked by Earth’s Call yesterday what message the global strikes were sending to politicians in Washington and around the world, Bill McKibben, one of the elder statesmen of the environmental community (who founded 350, one of the event’s coordinating producers), said, “You guys better listen up. The zeitgeist is changing — and changing fast. Any time this many people take to the streets, politicians have to pay attention.”

Marcher, NYC Climate Strike, Foley Square (Credit: Lance Gould)
Vanessa Wruble of March On at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Marchers, NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)

Marchers, NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Melati Wijsen of Bye Bye Plastic Bags and her mother at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Alexandria Villaseñor of Earth Uprising at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Marchers at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Bill McKibben of 350.org at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Xiuhtezcatl Martinex of Earth Guardians at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Marchers at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Marchers at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)
Unidentified U.S. President at NYC Climate Strike (Credit: Lance Gould)

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