Students across the world, in as many as 123 countries and 2000 cities, walked out of school today to attend local actions in conjunction with the Youth Climate Strike. Across the world tens of thousands of youth held marches and rallies to demand action on the looming crisis of climate change.
The local event was held on the front steps of the Rhode Island State House and was attended by over 250 students from across Rhode Island and from as far away as Cape Cod. Joelye Land and Amick Sollenberger, with the help of Lauren Manus of Sunrise RI, organized the local event.
“Our work has been inspired by Greta Thunberg in Sweden,” said Land. “She started this whole thing by striking from school on Fridays and today she’s joined by students in over 123 countries.” Thunberg, 16, was nominated for a Nobel Prize yesterday for her work on climate justice, the youngest nominee in history.
When she first learned about the impending crisis of climate change, Margaret Cavanaugh, a sophomore at Classical High School in Providence, was terrified, and tried to pretend the problem didn’t exist. “I thought if I ignored what was happening and no one talked about it, then it would just go away,” said Cavanaugh. “But now I know that ignorance is not an option. We have under twelve years to mitigate the effects of climate change, or the changes will become irreversible.”
“Our politicians refuse to acknowledge [climate change],” said climate activist Nicole DiPaolo. “They refuse to acknowledge the danger we are in at the expense of those who are already suffering and the expense of young people whose future is not guaranteed.
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“Instead,” continued DiPaolo, “our politicians attempt to hide the truth and claim to take bold climate action while supporting the expansion of fossil fuels. We see that in our Ocean State, so vulnerable to sea level rise, with a Governor that has hidden the data from the Department of Health that proves National Grid‘s liquefaction facility in South Providence is detrimental to public health and safety.”
There were loud boos from the crowd.
“Our Governor, Gina Raimondo,” continued DipAolo, “that supports a fracked gas power plant that would destroy the only forest of its kind in the northeast and would make toxic the water in all the surrounding cities and towns…”
“We can make climate change a major issue in the next election, rather than having it shoved to the side, as many politicians have in the past,” said Sunny Sait, a junior at East Greenwich High School. “This rally, these two hours, is the first step to making climate change our generation’s cause.”
“If nothing in our society’s approach to the climate crisis changes, we’re screwed,” said Alex Kithes, a full time climate activist. “On the course that humanity is currently on, all of us are living at the end of the world.”
“Here is what we need, and what our planet needs,” said Courtney Gray, who graduated North Kingstown High School last year and currently attends Florida Gulf Coast University. “For the nation to embrace the Green New Deal. Access to clean water for all people in the United States. Clean, renewable and zero emission energy by 2030. An end to fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Mandatory education on climate change and its effects from kindergarten to eighth grade, and for all decisions made by the government to be backed up with scientific research.”
“We have done this in the past, and we can do this again,” said Katrina Kulash, a junior at North Kingstown High School. Kulash explained that in 1989, under threat of losing the ozone layer, the world came together to successfully ban chlorofluorocarbons. “We understood that the risks outweighed the doubts,” said Kulash.
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