Climate Strike in NYC

“Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us, that is being stolen for profit?” These powerful words were delivered by Greta Thunberg, the renowned 16-year-old activist, at the youth climate strike in New York City. On September 20th, over 60,000 students marched from Foley Square to Battery Park in hopes of drawing further attention to the importance of climate crisis. There were many speakers, most under the age of 20, including Thunberg herself and Marisol Rivera, a 13-year-old Hurricane Sandy survivor, with a performance by Willow Smith. 

I spoke to a student from the NYC School, who provided a candid opinion of the event: “powerful, but in the end a little bit disappointing.” She believes that some groups of people had only taken part in an attempt to see the different performers and that many went straight to Battery Park, which defeated the main purpose of marching. We can argue whether these musical performances were a necessary lure or not, but the overall media coverage was strong. 

There had been an extensive debate over whether children and teens should be exempt from school on the day of the strike. Many teachers were worried that the students would use this opportunity to skip school with no intention of participating in the rally, but Mayor De Blasio later announced that students could be dismissed with parental authorization, giving 1.1 million kids the opportunity to attend the march. It seemed appropriate to ask one of the most respected teachers at RHS, Ms. Kalebic, about her thoughts on teens taking a stand, “I think it’s great that students are getting involved in issues concerning our future, especially their own.” 

I also reached out to the Superintendent for Ridgewood Public Schools, Daniel Fishbein, and asked about how a walk-out of this significance is viewed from an executive perspective. He mentioned that, of course, there are rules to follow regarding attendance, so an open deviance walk-out would “be problematic.” However, if a student were to have parental permission to attend a demonstration or RHS was to organize an orderly program with administrative permission, it would very likely be approved. 

Just days before the UN Climate Summit, Thunberg arrived in NYC on an emission-free yacht. She refused to travel by airplane because of the large carbon footprint that planes leave behind. When asked by reporters, she said Trump should “listen to the science,” but added that she believes that if no one has been able to change the President’s mind, why would she. “I’m going to now focus on spreading awareness and people, in general, will hopefully start caring and realize how big of a crisis this is.” 

For decades, large corporations have  contributed to global warming by burning fossil fuels, which warms up our planet and throws natural systems out of balance. Politicians keep ignoring the public’s plea for action and, every day, the Earth is affected by our ignorance. We see clear examples on a daily basis with heatwaves, rising sea levels, hurricanes, etc. These mentioned are only a few of the many consequences of global warming and the climate crisis. 

Greta Thunberg caught media attention about a year ago when she began spending her school days outside of the Swedish Parliament to call for stronger action of global warming. She quickly gained a large following of supporters, mainly comprised of youth climate activists. To this day, Greta continues to focus on climate action and has announced another global climate strike, taking place on November 29th. It is a reasonable hope of mine, that this time, world leaders will listen to us and put a much-needed effort in remedying the state of our environment

Lucia Betelu
Staff Writer

Graphic: Ava Haberman

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