Zoomers, or Generation Z, have already had a significant impact on politics regarding gun reform. They grew up in a post-Columbine world, and following the shooting in Parkland, Florida they protested en masse to drive the conversation. Now, they’re set that activist spirit on climate change.
A worldwide strike, the School Strike 4 Climate, will be held March 15th, bringing to bear the passion and political prowess of the newest generation.
“Climate change is something that disproportionately impacts my generation,” said 15-year-old activist Lily Gardner. “I think there’s a misconception that we’re advocating for something that’s unattainable, that we are throwing ourselves out there, that we’re becoming extreme, when we’re not. We are advocating for what is necessary to ensure that I have a livable future at all.”
We are calling on the world to take a stand against climate change. On March 15th, youth from across the US will take a stand & strike for our futures. We will be on the streets demanding our lawmakers to do something! Link in bio to join us!#FridaysForFuture #YouthStrikesUSA pic.twitter.com/M89skysQTB
— Youth Climate Strike US (@climatestrikeUS) February 1, 2019
Younger Americans from both the Zoomer and Millennial generations have a lot of concerns about climate, going so far as factoring in the future struggles of a warmer planet into the decision to have children of their own. There can be no mistake: climate is a major issue for the young.
And though that passion and determination extends all the way to elementary school students, the political establishment has been excessively dismissive. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) infamously called the Green New Deal the “green dream or whatever” and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) dismissed the concerns of young activists because they weren’t eligible to vote and she’d just gotten elected by almost a million vote plurality.
That dismissive attitude doesn’t sit well with youth activists. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, has expressed a support for the Green New Deal and is an inspiration of the School Strike.
— Benjamin Hermann (@BenjaHermann) January 31, 2019
“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope,” Thunberg said, “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
This strike follows similar organizing in Europe earlier this year, where students held signs with messages like “There Is No Plan B” and “Make Our Planet Great Again.” That message is coming stateside in the global day of action March 15th.
The strike’s demands range from the passage of the Green New Deal to declaring a national emergency on climate change (something President Trump was cautioned about when he declared his controversial emergency last month). Strikers also want an end to fossil fuel dependency, compulsory comprehensive climate education in their schools, and use of scientific research in government policymaking.
“We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis,” reads a description on the group’s website. “We are striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.