On September 20th, youth from around the world joined forces to strike for action on climate change. An estimated 4 million people gathered around the world, making it the largest public demonstration addressing the climate crisis, ever. The calls for action have grown exponentially over the past year, as Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg sparked a global movement to address the climate crisis through her lone-strike at the Swedish Parliament.
As the effects of climate change begin to permeate the seams of societies around the world, more and more evidence news and publications warning of catastrophe and chaos from the climate crisis enters circulation. From a surge of climate journalism comes a generation well-versed on the issue, and that in-turn creates a generation motivated and ready to tackle the climate crisis head-on and demand change.
The strike for the climate isn’t exclusively for the youth, though they may be the most active and vocal in their efforts. The movement now enjoys support from individuals from every age group, bringing people from all walks of life together to rally for the future of our planet.
Boston’s Climate Strike Draws Record Crowds
The crowds here in Boston were diverse; young children shouting chants for change, college students passionately showcasing their clever climate posters, and even an elderly couple with their grandchild holding a sign that read, “How am I going to explain polar bears to my grandchildren?”
An estimated 10,000 people showed up on Friday at Boston’s City Hall, calling for local and national governments to implement sweeping systemic changes that shift priorities towards environmental health and human well-being. As an environmental student and someone truly passionate about the issue, the sheer number of people in attendance was breathtaking and deeply encouraging.
At a time filled with climate skepticism and lagging governmental action to address the already present impacts of climate change, the support and momentum from the Boston community provided me a newfound hope for the future. It felt as though finally, the scientists who have been ringing alarm bells on this issue for decades and the activists who have been screaming out this message were heard by the rest of us. That in itself is something worth celebrating.
Speakers Inspire Crowds at City Hall
Youth Climate Activists from the Sunrise Movement took to the stage, many of whom are much younger and more fearless than myself, to share deeply personal anecdotes on what inspired them to join the movement and urged others to wake up and join their cause. Despite being strangers, the throngs of Bostonians standing in the balmy September sun were all united under one cause: achieving serious action on climate change.
If the inspirational speeches from youth wise beyond their years weren’t enough to choke you up, the moving words of Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu and Reverend Mariama White-Hammond would surely do you in.
City Councilor Michelle Wu spoke out to the masses of people congregated in City Hall Plaza, discussing the opportunity in transitioning to 100% renewable energy, creating sustainable food systems, protecting natural resources, and creating social and environmental justice for all. “We’re here because science is being ignored. We’re here because there are 11 years left to fix this. We’re here because Boston is especially vulnerable.” Wu closed her motivational speech to the state’s youth by saying that change will come this decade, from this generation, and “all it’s going to take is for us to follow your lead.”
Reverend Mariama White-Hammond is known for using her power of spirituality to advocate and connect to the social and ecological issues of today, and her compelling stage presence only amplifies the message. Overflowing with love and emotion, Rev. Mariama extolled the necessity of being connected in these times of action. She preached, “We’ve got to organize, and that requires building real relationships with real people. It means listening deeply to people you don’t know and to people who may not even agree with you…we’ve got to work for change on every level.”
Needless to say the support and momentum for climate action is greater than it’s ever been, and yet the gap between public sentiment on this issue and the actions of elected officials has never been greater. We need to close this gap, and Friday’s demonstrations were just the beginning of a larger push to hold leaders accountable and drive them to be bold and brave, like the youth of the world, in order to tackle the climate crisis in the scale it requires.