On Mar. 15, students around the world skipped their classes to attend strikes intended to bring attention to climate change, an issue that has been sparking debate for over a decade. It is believed that over 1 million students in 125 countries skipped classes on Friday to protest a lack of action on the issue.
The movement began with Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old political activist who reportedly sat outside Swedish parliament every Friday since August 2018. Thunberg has since been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize because of her actions and inspiration to students around the world.
“Climate change is the most pressing issue the planet faces today,” said Nathan Fetter (’22).
“If we don’t take care of our planet, nothing we do today will matter in the end, because there will be no planet for us to live on. We need to take care of the planet the way it takes care of us and we need to work towards net zero emissions.”
“Climate change is a pressing issue today with very real consequences that are already beginning to be seen across the globe,” said Aubrey Root (’21).
“I have to believe that attention will be brought to climate change as a result of the student strikes, and I believe that if nothing else, the conversation about climate change that will be brought into a global light is worth it.”
One major complaint amongst young activists is the difficulty of getting older generations to pay attention.
“There are several challenges to be a student, primarily that several older adults don’t think we are wise enough to have informed opinions about such important topics,” continued Root.
“[But] students are justified because this issue is incredibly pressing for us to have a solid future on this earth.”
There have also been frustrations with students skipping their classes, an issue that also came up last year during walk-outs in schools due to gun safety protests. During these walk-outs, many schools threatened punishments such as detention if students participated.
“College students pay enough money that they should be allowed to skip whatever class they want, regardless of purpose.” said Ethan Zalac (’22).
“In the case of high school students, however, [it’s] a complicated issue. While this is a very important and worthwhile cause, and they should not be punished in this instance, it could open the door for similar strikes about things that are not as important or relevant, discounting the importance and impact of this and taking away from the education of younger generations.”
However, that’s not to discredit their efforts.
“I would say they are justified in their reactions, and I support their decisions to protest climate change,” continued Zalac.
“It is unlikely that I would participate; I think that through my studies here in digital media and psychology that I will be able to better serve an environmental movement with the skills and knowledge I am gaining from my classes rather than skipping them.”
Although some students may feel the same way, there are students in Alma that would participate in strikes for such causes.
“I would participate if students in Alma protested climate change, because this issue is very real in today’s world. [And sometimes, that means you have to be willing to sacrifice certain lifestyles, your time, or other things.” said Root.
“[And] students can become involved in several different ways: reading up on important causes, writing to policymakers, voting in politicians who will fight for the environment, or just voicing their concerns regarding climate change.”