Chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go,” we hoisted twelve garbage bags full of trash and headed back towards school.
The morning had started out like any other: we all took our Friday morning tests, ate the apples we had packed for a snack, and chatted about how little sleep we had gotten the night before.
Around 10:45, though, the day became something else. We all convened in the ninth-grade classroom and watched a TedTalk by Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist. We saw pictures from more than one million students from 2,056 schools worldwide, who had already walked out in support of action on Climate Change.
Four students and I started a group discussion about what we can do at our school to lower our carbon footprint: bring our own water bottles, take notes on both sides of a piece of paper, turn our computers all the way off, etc. Then, wearing green t-shirts, signs in hand, garbage bags at the ready, we walked off campus to the annoyance of a few teachers.
Some said that the smarter solution would be to stay in school, grow up, become scientists, and then solve climate change, but raising awareness now and solving the issue later are not mutually exclusive.
Based on what I learned from Thunberg, we have already found significant solutions to Climate Change—electric cars, regenerative agriculture, renewable energy—yet change has not occurred. This is also not a problem we can wait to solve until we are grown up. In the time it would take us to stay in school, grow up, and become scientists, Climate Change could easily become irreversible. The failures of the generations before us and the people in government today, could directly damage my future and the future of my friends.
On Friday, March 15, we walked down Balboa Boulevard in Northridge, CA. on a student-organized strike, picking up huge amounts of trash that litter that section of road. We accumulated 12 full trash bags from a mere mile-long strip of sidewalk. We stood and chanted and whooped with joy in response to honking from the cars passing by. We waved our signs with words such as, “There is no planet B,” “Honk to demand action,” and “Students strike for climate.”
It is absurd to continue debating whether Climate Change is a threat. Time is dwindling, and the inaction of the people in power today has the potential to destroy my generation’s chance at a clean environment. Instead of becoming defensive, defiant, and outraged at propositions from the other side, we need to learn to listen to each other. No one, on either side of the aisle, wants the hard-working people in the coal or oil industry to lose their jobs. And no one wants the human race to become one of the 200 species that goes extinct daily.
That is why we walked out. The rest of our lives will be deeply affected by what does or does not happen in response to this global crisis.
By Isabela Lisco