People all over the world were able to take a stance on climate change
On Friday, Sep. 20, a global climate strike spanned across the globe. People who participated in the strike marched the streets voicing their concerns on the changing climate while demanding government officials to do something about the climate change issues. The strike deliberately took place before the United Nations emergency climate summit which was held Monday, Sep. 23 in New York City.
Fargo was among one of the many cities in the U.S. to participate in the climate strike as people were able to gather at Fargo City Hall to join with the other protests throughout the nation and world. Students across Fargo could also participate in the strike as well. Ben Franklin Middle School was one of several schools in Fargo to let students miss class for the strike. All students could participate in the strike as long as they had permission from an adult.
The climate strike brought out a large population of younger generations as the strike itself was initially inspired by a student. Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish climate activist, protested climate change and the lack of attention the topic received last year when she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament for three weeks. Students from around the world joined in with Thunberg’s message as they skipped school to be apart of the massive strikes.
Though there was a large majority of younger individuals at the strike, adults also missed work to protest as well. By the end of the day, though the exact number of participants in the strike remains unknown, some sources like The Guardian estimated that a quarter of a million individuals were apart of the strike worldwide. USA Today claimed in an article that Friday’s global strike was projectively the largest climate strike ever known.
On Sep. 23, the day of the emergency climate summit, more protesters lined the streets. According to the Washington Post, 32 climate activists were arrested after they blocked a major intersection in Washington D.C. early in the morning.
At least 60 countries attended the climate summit to discuss how they can meet the obligations of the Paris Climate accords. Among some of the speakers at the summit were: Angela Merkel; chancellor of Germany, Narendra Modi; India’s Prime minister and Boris Johnson; the British Prime Minister. Within the one day meeting, António Guterras, the UN Secretary-General, encouraged everyone to present plans on how to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas carbon emissions.
Though climate change has been a topic discussed for many years, the recent strike calls government officials to action as Thunberg accused the world leaders at the summit of failing to act on climate change issues. Recently more debates have questioned whether anything is being done to prevent further climate change.
Here at North Dakota State University, the Environmental Sustainability Club (ESC) educates students on living sustainably and reducing the impact NDSU has on the environment. Though no one in the club made it out to the global climate strike on Friday at City Hall, the members still appreciate the awareness the strike has sparked.
Amanda Garcia, the ESC vice president and Oliver Thiss, the ESC treasurer both elaborated about their thoughts on how the global strike will affect peoples view on climate change in the future. Whether new regulations might be put in place after the strike, Garcia responded, “I’d hope so. I hope that we get more involved this year and more students will want to do stuff like that.”
“I think everyone to some extent sees climate change, but some just don’t care.”Amanda Garcia
As the strike was meant to get the attention of government officials, there are questions of whether any action will be taken especially concerning the 2020 presidential candidates and whether they will address climate change issues. “From what I can tell on politics, I can say that it varies politician to politician. I would say on both sides it’s always part of their agenda. If you look at past elections some of the big initiatives the Obama administration took was more environmental regulations and some of the more talked about initiatives of the Trump administration was unrolling those regulations. I would say that it is going to be a hot topic in the election and continue to be, “Thiss said.” I think it varies state to state and for cities within a state too. I think Fargo is more conscious of it, but I can’t say the same for other parts of North Dakota. I think everyone to some extent sees climate change, but some just don’t care,” Garcia added when addressing whether the presidential candidates are listening to the protesters’ concerns on climate change.
When talking about what is holding back the actions needing to be taken to stop climate change, money was a major factor. “Everything revolves around money. It’s money based and it’s expensive to make a change,” Garcia stated. “Since the Paris Accords, the top five oil companies have invested over a billion dollars to continue denying climate change. You have extremely rich providences in the world like Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries that pretty much base their entire economy off oil. Along with many states within the United States that base most their economy off oil including North Dakota. It’s no surprise that you see people following where the money goes, at least political leaders following where the money goes because they get donations and lobbyists. They’re essentially bought and every election comes down to dollars and cents,” Thiss claimed.
Whether Garcia and Thiss think there will be a day when everybody will have the same viewpoints on climate change, both had their opinions. “Probably when it’s too late. Hopefully, there will be a change sooner than later, but I feel like people are very stubborn. That’s why that protest (the global climate strike) is so important,” Garcia said. “There’s still people who say the earth is flat and that’s still going around so a hundred years from now there’s still going to be people who say global warming isn’t real,”Thiss added.” On the other hand, we have made a change since at least the 70’s,” Garcia mentioned.
Any student wanting to learn more about sustainability and the impacts we have on the environment can join the Environmental Sustainability Club. Meetings are held every other Tuesday (with the next meeting on Oct. 8) in the Peace Garden Room of the Memorial union.