Every Friday since August 2018, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has been striking from school in order to save the planet. Her movement — dubbed Fridays for Future — has grown, leading to countless environmental protests led by young people across the globe. Now, school strikers are asking people of all ages to get on board with a global climate strike this September.
In an open letter published by the Guardian, Thunberg, along with 44 other brilliant young minds, laid out why stopping the climate crisis should be every person's responsibility. The message comes on a day when over a million young people are expected to strike. (As the Guardian reports, 1.4 million individuals from more than 110 countries took part in a global climate school strike in May. Friday's strike numbers are thought to top those figures.)
"We spent uncountable hours organising and mobilising when we could have just hung out with our friends or studied for school," the letter reads, adding that parents have been "busy discussing whether our grades are good, or a new diet, or what happened in the Game of Thrones finale while the planet burns."
The teens point out that it's not just up to them: "We feel a lot of adults haven’t quite understood that we young people won’t hold off the climate crisis ourselves. Sorry if this is inconvenient for you. But this is not a single generation job. It’s humanity’s job."
Friday, Sep. 20 will kickstart a week of global climate action, say the protesters. The first event will be a worldwide strike in which everyone is encouraged to attend. "Let’s all join together, with your neighbours, co-workers, friends, family, and go out on to the streets to make your voices heard and make this a turning point in our history," the strikers wrote.
"To change everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance — we have shown that collective action does work. We need to escalate the pressure to make sure that change happens, and we must escalate together."
Several famous adults, including actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo and author Margaret Atwood, have already agreed to join the school strikers on Sep. 20. You, too, can pledge to join the movement by entering your name on the strike's official site. And if you're interested in organising a climate strike in your local town or city, you're free to do so. Resources, guidance, and more information about specific events will be issued soon.
Organisers are aware that not everyone can leave their jobs for an entire day. But a lot of professions certainly can afford to give up time for arguably the greatest cause of all.
Terrifying conclusions have already been reached by scientists. As the BBC reports, experts announced in October 2018 that humanity has just 12 years to stop temperatures increasing by more than 1.5°C or face potentially catastrophic consequences.
Long-standing predictions have also been replaced, proving that things are moving quicker than scientists thought. For example, the planet's biggest ice shelf is melting 10 times quicker than anticipated, reports the Independent. In response to news like this, the UK became the first national government to declare a climate emergency, states The Conversation. But words are not enough.
Personal action is a way to help. But one individual can only do so much. Striking in unison, however, may just convince governments everywhere that ignorance is no longer bliss.