Last Friday, September 20, the Global Climate Strike took place in 137 countries and over 5000 locations around the world, making it the largest mobilization for climate change in history, according to 350.org, an international movement to end dependence on fossil fuels.
Students walked out of school in cities across the world – including Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. Among the biggest public demonstrations was the one that took place in New York City, where crowds estimated at 250,000 came out after the city administration gave kids the day off to show their anger.
“When we see the New York Department of Education greenlighting 1.1 million kids to leave school, they’re showing that this isn’t just a normal Friday. The strike is all about disrupting business as usual,” said Jordan Teicher, a volunteer at Sunrise, a youth-led movement fighting against climate change. “We’re saying that, ‘This is a crisis and it’s time for everyone to treat it as such.’”
Kate Borows-lai, a sophomore at Millennium High School in New York City’s financial district, said she was glad that her city respected the youth and that climate change was being taken seriously.
As a hub coordinator for the Sunrise Movement at the Culinary Institute of America, Aaron Kearns helped gather fellow students for the climate strike. “I care about agriculture and I can’t do agriculture if there’s nothing to work with,” he said. “If our climate is going the way it is, there’ll be nothing for me in the future,” he said.
The strike was timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit that took place this week at the annual UN General Assembly in New York. Teicher said he expected world leaders to bring bold ideas and plans to address the climate change crisis.
Brooke Fortunato, a high school senior from Ridgewood, New Jersey, wasn’t excused from school to attend the climate strike, but she participated anyway. “It’s time to show older people who are making these decisions for us that a change needs to happen,” she said.
Eden Naureckis, a sophomore at Millennium High School, was more direct in her criticism: “The fact that we’re children who have to miss our education to go do this says something pretty sh*tty about society.”
Organizations like 350.org and Sunrise Movement encourage everyone, regardless of age, to participate in upcoming climate strikes. “Striking and marching is something you can do to bring change when it comes to the climate crisis. The most effective thing anyone can do is to get politically involved and that’s what the climate strike represents,” said Teicher.