With major chunks of the environment literally disappearing before our eyes, it's no surprise that for many young people around the world, fighting climate change is a top priority. To highlight just how important this fight is, youth activists organized thousands of demonstrations in more than 150 countries as part of the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, which could become one of the largest environmental protests in history. From New York to Australia, climate strikers are protesting fossil fuels and demanding meaningful action to fight climate change, and doing it with style. If you're wondering what kind of impact these protests will have, some of the best signs from the climate strike illustrate just how powerful this movement has become.
In August 2018, a teenage environmental activist named Greta Thunberg started striking outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm every Friday, BuzzFeed News reported. Thunberg was alone then, but she certainly isn't anymore. What started as her own personal effort against climate change has becoming a global movement of students and young people walking out of school and work to draw attention to the climate crisis.
It is now a year later, and on Sept. 20, young activists in cities across the world decided to follow Thunberg's example by demanding that climate change be made a priority. In the United States, for example, a coalition of youth activists have demanded support for a Green New Deal, respect for indigenous lands, comprehensive environmental justice, and more. While the protests varied in size — Des Moines, Iowa had approximately 500 demonstrators, while New York City saw anywhere from 60,000 to over a million protesters hit the streets. Sixteen-year-old Thunberg is among the protesters in New York City for the global climate strike, and from Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg, South Africa, young people and adults alike are demanding more concrete action on climate change from their governments.
Signs from the global climate strike prove just how passionate people are about combating the climate crisis, and you can take a look for yourself.
The climate strike was so wide-reaching that it received support all the way from Antarctica:
Climate change has rapidly become an international emergency — one that disproportionately impacts low-income communities, communities of color, and low-lying coastal regions. In a 2018 report, climate scientists warned policymakers that the planet could experience a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius — the previous target for limiting global warming — in just 11 years, and reversing that course would require drastic systemic action, the BBC reported. Stabilizing global temperatures is critical, scientists have said, to avoid a complete breakdown of critical ecosystems. Across the globe, humanity is already seeing the effects of climate change, with hurricanes, tropical storms, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters significantly impacting communities around the world.
In the Sept. 20 climate strike in Dhaka, Bangladesh, activists formed a human chain to demand climate justice, and they urged lawmakers to prioritize what they described as the climate emergency. In Sydney, Australia — one of the cities that kicked off the global climate strike — demonstrators called on their government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially because Australia is the largest exporter of both coal and liquid natural gas. In Nairobi, Kenya, protesters drew attention to the fact that seven of the 10 countries most affected by climate change are located on the African continent; these countries have faced hurricanes, droughts, species extinction and more, per Al Jazeera.
These demands for climate justice took hold across the U.S. as well. In Houston, Texas, activists highlighted the need for action of climate change just one day after Tropical Storm Imelda caused severe flooding in the state. In Seattle and other tech hubs, thousands of employees from Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter pledged to walk out of their offices to support the climate strike, The New York Times reported. And in New York City, Thunberg issued a call to activists around the world as she and other students led a march through Manhattan.
It's an emergency that has long been in the making, but young people have made it clear that they intend to put a stop to it. Led by these youth activists, millions of people across the world plan to strike all week long in support of a healthier planet and a more equitable society.