Category Archives: FridaysForFuture.org

The climate change generation wants to be heard – ‘I’m fighting for my future.’

Repost from High Country News

The climate change generation wants to be heard – ‘I’m fighting for my future.’

By Rebecca Leber, March 15, 2019

This article was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In 2040, Haven Coleman will be 33 years old. Having grown up in Colorado, she may have left the state to attend college or start her career, but wherever she goes will be a stunningly different world from the one she inhabits today.

The planet will have already warmed past one scary threshold — 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial averages — and will be fast approaching the even more frightening mark of 2 degrees Celsius, long considered a catastrophic marker by the global community. Even at 1.5 degrees, there will likely be tens of millions of climate refugees from regions that have become uninhabitable because of heat, flooding, or extreme weather; fragile coral reefs may be nearly decimated; while recurrent flooding, excessive heat, and a constant risk of wildfires will pose an everyday threat to stability in some of the world’s biggest cities.

Not quite yet 13 years old, Coleman is painfully aware of what awaits her generation should there be continued government and social inaction in addressing the perils of a warming planet. “I’ve grown up with climate change,” Coleman told me. “I’ve grown up listening and hearing about climate change. I’m fighting for my future.”

She is one of the school-age protesters who will be skipping classes Friday to join in protests in more than 1,600 school strikes across 100 countries. Students are joining in, inspired by the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, who has been striking most Fridays since 2018 to demand political leaders’ attention. The hashtag, #FridaysForFuture has caught on in other countries, like Australia where 200 young people demonstrated in November.

Greta Thunberg inspired thousands of students in Hamburg to skip school in protest over the lack of action on climate change.

In the U.S., the movement, which is made up of mostly teenage girls, has expanded from a few lone protesters missing school on some Fridays to a nationwide, all-day Youth Climate Strike.  Coleman teamed up with 16-year-old Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Minnesota Rep. Imar Oman, and 13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor of New York City. Their demands are for the U.S. to embrace the principles underlying the Green New Deal, provide better education on climate change, and connect all government decisions to scientific research.

These young people comprise the first generation who bear little responsibility for the 410 parts per million concentration of carbon in the atmosphere but will face most of the consequences from it. They’re coming of age when the window to ward off this nightmare scenario is rapidly shrinking. Many older adults have been warning for decades that “future generations” will suffer for our selfishness and inertia from continued inaction. Now, those so-called future victims are finding their voice to try and shape the agenda.

“The climate change generation is a generation of young people born into a warming world, who will be alive to see which climate model scenario plays out, and who have spent — and will spend — essentially our entire adult lives fighting for a just and stable future,” says Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow, scientist and activist who has organized to persuade Harvard and MIT to divest from fossil fuels. “Many of my younger peers in the climate change generation will literally outlive the climate projections that scientists run through 2100.”

The youngest activists in the U.S. have found new entry points in the debate by joining the Sunrise Movement and demanding a Green New Deal. The Sunrise Movement is mostly comprised of millennial activists, a portion of whom, like Supran, learned the basics of organizing from the fossil fuel divestment movement on college campuses. Many of those 20-something organizers were concerned about climate change already, but found agency through concrete action like divestment.

Whether intuitively or from having witnessed and learned history, the younger activists understand that climate change encompasses not only the environment but also racial discrimination and economic inequality.

Even in the past, the environmental movement has been more expansive than other single-issue concerns, says Georgetown historian Michael Kazin, an expert in the radical left. He explains that in the sixties and seventies, environmentalism began as an anti-pollution movement that grew out of opposition to the Vietnam War and demands for a better quality of life. “What any movement needs to survive is infrastructure,” Kazin notes, “and to find through-lines to other issues people are about.”

Sunrise is one of the groups that is fast building up that infrastructure and has closely connected the climate fight to racial justice. Rose Strauss from Sunrise is a college freshman, who attended one of the group’s trainings last year and saw the need to recognize its growing number of activists at the high school level. Sunrise does not have hard numbers for its under-20 division, but counts 275 students who are active on their Slack channel. The group, working with a high school-focused climate group called iMatter, has been working to advance Green New Deal resolutions in places like Marin County, California, and Sante Fe, New Mexico. Having a vision, like the Green New Deal, to rally around has drawn new activists to their ranks.

“I’ve been trying to become active for a long time but there wasn’t a solution addressing the problem on the scale that needs to be addressed,” Strauss says. “Having a tangible solution like the Green New Deal to get behind puts a much more positive spin on it than ‘this is terrible we need to stop it.’ That kind of shift in messaging has got a lot more people involved.”

Climate activists across the generations are counting on these new messengers to bring more salience to their arguments. “Politicians and pundits have talked for decades about ‘our children and grandchildren’ who will face the perils of climate change,” Supran says. “But guess what: They’re here, they’re alive, they’re marching in the streets right now.”

Rebecca Leber is a reporter in Mother Jones’ D.C. bureau, where she covers environmental politics and policy. Email High Country News at editor@hcn.org or submit a letter to the editor.

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    Youth climate strike on March 15: “We are going to change the fate of humanity”

    Repost from The Guardian
    [Editor: Bay Area events: San Rafael, San Francisco, Alameda.  For info on the event in Berkeley: email Juniper Grace junipearlington@gmail.com.  – R.S.]

    Youth climate strikers: ‘We are going to change the fate of humanity’

    Exclusive: Students issue an open letter ahead of global day of action on 15 March, when young people are expected to strike across 50 nations

    • Read the climate strikers’ letter


    The students striking from schools around the world to demand action on climate change have issued an uncompromising open letter stating: “We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not.”

    The letter, published by the Guardian, says: “United we will rise on 15 March and many times after until we see climate justice. We demand the world’s decision makers take responsibility and solve this crisis. You have failed us in the past. [But] the youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.”

    The Youth Strikes for Climate movement is not centrally organised, so keeping track of the fast growing number of strikes is difficult, but many are registering on FridaysForFuture.org. So far, there are almost 500 events listed to take place on 15 March across 51 countries, making it the biggest strike day so far. Students plan to skip school across Western Europe, from the US to Brazil and Chile, and from Australia to Iran, India and Japan.

    “For people under 18 in most countries, the only democratic right we have is to demonstrate. We don’t have representation,” said Jonas Kampus, a 17 year old student activist, from near Zurich, Switzerland. “To study for a future that will not exist, that does not make sense.”

    Young environmental activist Jonas Kampus, from Zurich Switzerland
    Young environmental activist Jonas Kampus, from Zurich Switzerland | Photograph: Dominik Waser

    The letter says: “We are the voiceless future of humanity … We will not accept a life in fear and devastation. We have the right to live our dreams and hopes.” Kampus helped initiate the letter, which was created collectively via a global coordination group numbering about 150 students, including the first youth climate striker, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.

    The strikes have attracted some criticism and Kampus said: “We wanted to define for ourselves why we are striking.” Another member of the coordination group, Anna Taylor, 17, from north London, UK, said: “The importance of the letter is it shows this is now an international movement.

    Taylor said: “The rapid growth of the movement is showing how important it is and how much young people care. It is vital for our future.” Janine O’Keefe, from FridaysForFuture.org, said: “I’ll be very happy with over 100,000 students striking on 15 March. But I think we might reach even beyond 500,000 students.”

    Thunberg, now 16 years old and who began the strikes with a solo protest beginning last August, is currently on holiday from school. She was one of about 3,000 student demonstrators in Antwerp, Belgium on Thursday, and joined protesters in Hamburg on Friday morning.

    In recent days, she has sharply rejected criticism of the strikes from educational authorities, telling the Hong Kong Education Bureau: “We fight for our future. It doesn’t help if we have to fight the adults too.” She also told a critical Australian state education education minister his words “belong in a museum”.

    The strikes have been supported by Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief when the Paris deal to fight global warming was signed in 2015. She said: “It’s time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth. The Paris Agreement was a step in the right direction, but it’s timely implementation is key.” Michael Liebreich, a clean energy expert, said: “Anyone who thinks [the strikes] will fizzle out any time soon has forgotten what it is to be young.”

    In the UK, about Taylor said more than 10,000 students went on strike on 15 February: “I’m anticipating at least double that on 15 March.”

    The strikes would not end, Taylor said, until “environmental protection is put as politicians’ top priority, over everything else. Young people are cooperating now, but governments are not cooperating anywhere near as much as they should”. She said students were contacting her from new countries every day, including Estonia, Iceland and Uganda in recent days.

    Kampus, who was invited to meet the Swiss environment minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, on Wednesday, said: “The strikes will stop when there is a clear outline from politicians on how to solve this crisis and a pathway to get there. I could be doing so many other things. But I don’t have time as we have to solve this crisis. My dream is to have a life in peace.”

     

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