It began with Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist from Sweden who started skipping school on Fridays to plead for her government to take climate change seriously. Her activism inspired school children around the world to do the same. It helped the Extinction Revolution in the UK gain traction. And it encouraged 350.org, the climate change organization founded by Bill McKibben, to propose a global week of protest beginning September 20 during the next world climate conference at the UN scheduled for next week.
How You Can Join In
How can you participate? Sign up at 350.org to add your name to the list of people demanding action. On their website you will find an interactive world map. Click on any city to find out where and when events in support of the global climate strike are taking place in your area.
Who’s Already In?
The global climate strike is expected to draw significant support from workers in the tech industry. According to The Street, workers at Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft are expected to walk off the job on Friday to participate. Apple workers may also get involved.
Some worker groups have launched social media sites to communicate their activities, such as the Google Workers for Action on Climate Change, Microsoft Workers 4 Good, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, and Facebook Employees for Climate Action pages on Twitter.
Amazon workers say they want their company to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and to pilot electric vehicles first in communities most affected by pollution. “This will be the first time that Amazon workers at corporate offices are walking out, and it’s the first walkout in the tech industry over the climate crisis,” states a release from the Amazon worker group.
In an e-mail to CleanTechnica, David Levine, president of the American Sustainable Business Council, which represents the interests of more than a quarter million US businesses, said, “Addressing the climate crisis is an historic business opportunity. But first, the federal, state and local governments and all businesses must take seriously the threats from the climate crisis.
“Already American businesses are being hurt by climate-related extreme weather and changing weather patterns. The damage includes supply chain disruptions, harm to facilities, and increased energy and employee health costs. We need dramatic changes in public policy that will drive business innovation, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and move us to a sustainable and healthy economy based on 100% renewable energy.”
In New York City, more than 1 million school students will be excused from school to participate in the protests, which brought an enthusiastic response from Jamie Henn, an organizer for 350.org.
This is so cool! NYC Public Schools are letting students leave class to join the #ClimateStrike on September 20th.
Also, holy smokes, this thing could get HUGE. https://t.co/e7vyuf6cRk
— Jamie Henn (@jamieclimate) September 12, 2019
“This completely changes things, and it’s our doing,” Xiye Bastida, 17, a senior at Beacon High School in Manhattan, told the New York Times. Individual teachers at the school were planning to accompany some students to the strike even before the city gave official permission. Xiye, who lives in Morningside Heights, said she worked with other youth organizers to get 15 City Council members to request the excused absences from the Education Department. “We’re not against the school system,” she said. “We need the schools to work with us because our larger goal is to stop the fossil fuel industry.”
According to the Times, a group of 600 medical professionals have signed a virtual doctor’s note encouraging teachers to excuse students on the grounds that climate change is dangerous to their and others’ health.
Greta Thunberg Speaks To Congress
And the young person who started all this spoke to the US Congress this week. According to the New York Times, her appearance lasted about a minute. First she presented a copy of the latest IPCC climate change report, then told a House subcommittee, “I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists. And then I want you to take real action.”
She also spoke to the US Senate where her message was equally brief and to the point. “Please save us your praise. We don’t want it,” she said. “Don’t invite us here to tell us how inspiring we are without doing anything about it.”
Asked her impressions of America, she said she was taken aback by the number of climate change deniers compared to her own country, where climate change and humans’ role in it are accepted as facts. She also said Americans use too much air conditioning and that the smell of New York City was “indescribable.” She didn’t mean that as a compliment. She says she wants the global youth protests planned for September 20 to be a “social tipping point.”
CleanTechnica has written twice this week about how there is a change in the air regarding the topic of climate change. Perhaps we are simply sensing that the global protests set for this Friday really will change the conversation.
If so, we have Greta Thunberg to thank, but there are many other people who have blazed a trail for her, people like Bill McKibben, Michael Mann, Mark Jacobson, James Hansen, and many more who have been vilified, harassed, harangued, jailed, and threatened with bodily harm for daring to speak the truth about climate change and the science behind it.
We owe them a debt of gratitude that we can partially repay by personally participating in this Friday’s global protests. If the people will lead, their leaders will follow, so they say. Let’s make it happen!
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