Photo by Isaac Tessman
Climate change awareness has been growing in the news due to several reports detailing the effects of climate change and how long Earth will be habitable because of its effects. An international climate change strike occurred on September 20th to bring awareness about the effects of climate change to government and businesses in hopes of causing action. The strikes were timed to begin a week of activism at the United Nations, culminating in a UN Climate Action Summit.
Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old climate activist from Sweden, first called for a strike to protest adults who others say are ignoring the destruction of the planet. Thunberg became the face of climate change activism when she began skipping school on Fridays to protest inaction on climate change outside the Swedish parliament. The purpose of these strikes is to stand up to governments and businesses and force them into action.
Many of these strikes are led by students and young adults. Multiple Alma College students and faculty – coordinated by Leaders for Environmental Awareness, Protection and Sustainability – attended the climate change strike in Lansing on Friday. “The idea is for children and adults of all ages to walk out of their schools, jobs, and everyday routines in order to disrupt business as usual, just as climate change is doing in countries all over the world,” said Hunter Wilson (‘20).
The global climate strikes are said to be one of the largest international protests in history, with millions around the globe participating in their local strikes. Multiple school districts in Michigan, such as Ann Arbor and Detroit, excused absences for the day for students going to a climate strike. By excusing absences, more students were able to attend strikes and lend their voice to the growing cause.
Students and young adults make up a majority of those fighting for awareness about the effects of climate change. As they are the generation that will primarily deal with the long-term effects of climate change, they want measures put in place now to reduce the harmful effects of climate change in the future.
Getting involved on campus is important for students who want to help fight climate change. “At some point, every student on this campus will experience an adverse impact from climate change,” said Wilson. “Climate change is already hurting millions of people; if we don’t initiate change, the injustice of the crisis will only get worse.”
College students can support the climate strikes by allying themselves with climate activists and other young people fighting for change. “If you know of a child or teen striking, let them know that you support them. Talk to your family about climate change, and relay the information they need to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Wilson.
Reducing one’s environmental footprint can also help fight climate change. Buying and consuming less meat, forgoing fast fashion, driving less, using reusable water bottles or straws and unplugging cords when not in use are all ways college students can lower their carbon footprint and contribute less to climate change.
Contacting local businesses and government and voicing your concerns is another way to fight climate change. Big businesses and governments have the power to reduce their footprint on a much larger scale than a single person, so by forcing them to bend to social pressure and reduce their footprint, much larger steps can be taken to fight climate change.