From Australia to Arcata, hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world walked out of school today in droves to protest the climate crisis.
Hundreds of students and activists of all ages showed up to the Arcata Plaza at noon today with signs and chants expressing their concerns over humanity’s impact on the climate, while dozens more showed up to the county courthouse in Eureka as part of a sister strike organized by local group 350 Humboldt.
“We need to make it a bigger deal,” said Sterling Holland, a Sunny Brae Middle School student who walked out of class.
Fellow Sunny Brae Middle School student Felix Yount and Holland said they wanted to be part of the strike because they felt too many people ignore the issue altogether while others only pay it lip service.
“People are just saying, ‘Oh, let’s save the Earth’ and stuff,” Yount said, “but they’re not actually doing anything about it.”
Justin Massie got his 6-year-old son Tacari out of class to be a part of the climate strike because he said his son’s generation was really going to bear the brunt of the changes in the climate.
“It’s a big deal,” Massie said. “We’re already facing a lot of damage, you know. It’s a matter of how much damage we’re facing.”
Massie said “things need to change” in order for him to be able to leave a habitable world behind for his children and those that will come after.
The world has warmed about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) since before the Industrial Revolution, and scientists have attributed more than 90 percent of the increase to emissions of heat-trapping gases from fuel-burning and other human activity.
Scientists have warned that global warming will subject Earth to rising seas and more heat waves, droughts, powerful storms, flooding and other problems, and that some have already started manifesting themselves.
Melanie Parra, a Humboldt State University student, said she wasn’t planning on coming out initially because she thought it was important to go to class, however, she changed her mind when a friend of hers told her, “There are no classes if there is no Earth.”
The changes in the climate are already being felt now, said Wilde Flores, an Arcata resident.
“I think a lot about the bees,” Flores said. “There were so many bees when I was a kid growing up and now it seems like there’s so many less.”
Mallory Cowell, a Eureka resident who came out to the county courthouse, said the media was part of the problem because it was avoiding using certain terms and ideas, such as not calling the changes in the climate a crisis and not talking about the mass extinction currently taking place.
Cowell said there’s plenty of money to be made through renewable energy instead of staying stuck on fossil fuels.
“Make money on something that’s good for the planet,” Cowell said.
Individual choices won’t be enough to change the impacts of the climate crisis, said Mary Sanger, of 350 Humboldt. Even if everyone recycled, she said that wouldn’t be enough; society needs to get off fossil fuels.
“We have to scale up the solutions to the scale of the problem,” Sanger said. “And this is a global problem.”
The turnout shows how “woke” people in the community are about climate change and the importance of having your voice heard, Sanger said.
“We have to speak up — get together, speak up and make ourselves shown for the powers that be to understand we’re tired of waiting,” Sanger said. “This is it. Do it. We need it now, we need it yesterday.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.