Millions protest around world in Climate Strike

Teenager Greta Thunberg addresses UN

Merdies Hayes | 9/27/2019, midnight

Late last week, from London to Paris, from New York City to Los Angeles—and in a reported 139 countries around the world—millions of people marched to call attention to climate change in what was billed as the Global Climate Strike.

It was the third in a worldwide series of climate rallies organized by school students hoping to put pressure on politicians and policy makers to act on climate issues. One young person, Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, became the face of of the issue in her plea to world leaders to act now on climate change, if not for the present, but certainly for future generations who will inherit a world where rising shorelines, devastating storms, droughts and deadly wildfires will become the norm.

In New York City alone, a reported 1.1 million youth were allowed to skip classes on Sept. 20 after the city announced it would not penalize public school students joining the strikes provided they had parental consent. At home, Downtown LA and Long Beach witnessed tens of thousands of persons marching and speaking to the urgent matter of caring for our planet in a time when political differences on Capitol Hill may discourage meaningful change for the better within the climate debate.

In the United States, demands created by environmental justice organizations include calls for a Green New Deal, the end of global deforestation by 2030, and a commitment to communities most affected by climate change. In New York City, Thunberg addressed the United Nations in an outspoken and controversial approach that, of late, has made her the global face of climate change activism.

She spoke her mind in a most provocative way: “This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Thunberg has since drawn comparisons between herself and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai in relation to the young people around the world who are actively speaking for their generation. The teenagers are often dismissed by their elders for being insolent and too “in your face” in terms of economic and political fallout from their activism.

In February, Thunberg wrote on Facebook that “there is no one 'behind' me except for myself. My parents were as far from climate activists as possible before I made them aware of the situation.” Thunberg rose to prominence last year by taking time off from school to demonstrate outside the Swedish Parliament about the lack of action to combat climate change. Inspired by her weekly protest, millions of young activists around the globe this month endeavored to pressure their respective governments to act.

Thunberg backed up her words with action. After sailing to New York City in a zero-carbon emissions vessel, she accused leaders at the United Nations climate summit of mere empty rhetoric on climate change. Her indictments didn't sit terribly well with President Donald Trump. He has questioned climate science and has challenged every US regulation aimed at combating climate change, most notably by pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions, slowing global rising temperatures, and helping nations deal with the affects of climate change.