Students in the U.S. are joining other young people from around the world and are planning on March 15th to skip school and strike, march and rally to protest government inaction on climate change and raise public awareness of the severity of the climate crisis. Under the so-called “#FridaysForFuture” hashtag, this school strike was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg (one of our Heroes of the week) and her Friday “school strikes for climate” in front of the Swedish Parliament that have spread across Europe in recent weeks. Students in the U.S. will rally at state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol to demand:
- a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in line with the October 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius,
- world leaders take action that ensures global warming remains under 1.5 degrees Celsius, and
- US legislators implement the Green New Deal and other legislative actions that decrease the climate crisis.
For these students, the issue is the most urgent we face and the time for action is now. They believe that “We are at a turning point in history. Our futures are at stake. We call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people.”
Speaking of students, on Capitol Hill, Senator Edward Markey (MA) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI) have introduced legislation to create a grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assist state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and professional associations to improve climate literacy. Shockingly, only 30 percent of middle school teachers and only 45 percent of high school science teachers understand the extent of the scientific consensus on climate change.
Why This Matters: These students are providing the spark needed for this movement to catch fire. In a press release criticizing Senator McConnell’s plan to bring the Green New Deal Resolution to a vote in the Senate before there are hearings on it, Senator Markey said, “Leader McConnell thinks the Green New Deal is just a resolution, but the Green New Deal is a revolution. The Green New Deal has struck a powerful chord in this country, and it is igniting the movement of young people who are ready to make this the organizing issue for their generation. And with a mission to save all of creation by investing in massive job creation, the Green New Deal is the kind of generational commitment we need to transform our economy and our democracy.” Meanwhile, the list of backers of the Green New Deal continues to grow: Groups that endorse and support the resolution include: Sierra Club, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, People’s Action, Center for Popular Democracy, Dream Corps, Green for All, 350.org, CREDO Action, Demos, Presente.org, League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, NextGen America, American Sustainable Business Council, Bold Alliance, Organic Consumers Association, Honor the Earth, Working Families Party, the Hip Hop Caucus, Chispa, and Seeding Sovereignty.