Updated: 19 minutes ago
On Friday, Sept 20, millions of teens across the world protested government inaction on climate change. Led by activists such as Greta Thunberg, students and adults alike took to the streets ahead of an emergency meeting of the United Nations to address the climate crisis. While many leaders of the movement have been taking off from school and regularly striking, thousands of everyday teens decided to lend their voices to the movement as well. We spoke to some of them from a few strikes around the country.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.
Kitty and Christine, Washington, D.C.
Kitty: “I feel like the environmental issues happening right now are being ignored, and there’s so many people explaining that we need to solve these problems, but no one is listening, and so the strike is kind of a wake up call for everyone. You need to pay attention, open your eyes. There are so many things wrong with this planet, and we need to save our home. What are we going to do if everything burns? We won’t be here anymore.”
Christine: “I think the education on the climate crisis right now is essential, and we’re going through a complete crisis, a world crisis. We should panic about the situation, because if we don’t do anything about it now, there’s really no going back on it, and some of the changes are going to be irreversible. I think I’m here because of the education that I’ve been given about this important issue.”
Simia and Lizzy, Washington D.C
Lizzy: “We came out because we heard that there are 11 years left until climate change is irreversible. It's terrible how our presidency is taking away funding from the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and from other organizations that need the money to help reduce our carbon footprint and things like that. We have 11 years, and you can’t play around any more.”
Simia: “That’s really scary. I can’t sleep knowing I can’t do anything about it. Especially with the Amazon forest fires, it’s horrible, and we need to do something now.”
Lucy and Melanie, Washington, D.C.
Lucy: “I care about the environment, which is why I’m here, and there’s no future unless we change that. I think politicians need to do something now, because time is running out.”
Melanie: “I just think it’s an extremely important movement because there’s literally no life without the Earth, and the fact that big oil companies, big corporations and even the United States government can’t pay attention to all the people that are urgently telling them that this is an emergency that’s going to affect us for the rest of our lives, I think it’s really important for all of us to be here for that purpose.”
Sanaa and Reva, Washington, D.C.
Sanaa: “I came to the strike today because I’ve just listened to what Greta Thunberg said. I’d call the important stuff that she’s been doing as a 16-year-old climate activist super important for climate action committees and changemakers over the last year. We have to reduce our carbon footprint as a country, mostly because the United States is one of the biggest carbon polluters in the world next to China, and we need to wean ourselves off of coal and start a renewable energy deal in light of the Green New Deal, as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Ed Markey have proposed.”
Reva: “I’m here at the climate strike because I really believe that climate justice is like world justice. Without our planet and without living sustainably, there’s no point in any other type of policy initiatives because, honestly, we’ll be dead. But it’s super important that we all play a part in making sure that we live more sustainably. Climate policies really create the most fundamental change, so by protesting we try to push more green energy practices that are more effective as a whole.”
Terra Berriodi, St. Paul, Minn.
“Climate change is something that's really important to me. Our world will not have a future unless the administration does something about it, and nothing is happening in the U.S. right now. We have big, impactful policies that could be stopping giant corporations from putting a million tons of [carbon dioxide] in the air. I have to stand for my morals. If this is something I believe in, I need to move here, and I need to show my support for it. So that's why I'm here. I want to support everyone else.”
Ben Johnson, St. Paul, Minn.
“I’m here to stand up for the earth. We don’t have much longer until the earth reaches a point where we can’t come back to it and everyone’s lives change dramatically for the worse.”
Clara, St. Paul, Minn.
“I’m here because I love our planet, and not enough is being done to save it. This is the planet that we live on, and I feel like a lot of people don’t realize how serious the crisis is.”
Jaylen Gardner, Baltimore, Md.
“I came because I honestly, truly believe that climate change is very important. Not only is it destroying a lot of habitats of animals, and it's not just impacting the wildlife, but it's also affecting us in minor ways right now. It's getting bigger, and eventually it's going to be a really big problem, and we need to do something about it."
Alexander Golden, Baltimore, Md.
“We joke about it a little bit here and there, but this is our planet. It's not even a political thing at this point, it's just a matter of life or death. You either do something, and we all live, and life goes on happily, or you do don’t do anything, and fossil fuels go on, big companies make a lot of money, and we just have to suffer from it.”