My experience with the Global Climate Strike

I went to Denver last Friday to protest for legislation for climate change action

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My experience with the Global Climate Strike

The strikes were a powerful moment for everyone involved.

The strikes were a powerful moment for everyone involved.

The strikes were a powerful moment for everyone involved.

The strikes were a powerful moment for everyone involved.

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On Friday, September 20, students and employees in 150 countries went on strike to promote the end of fossil fuel use. This was the beginning of a week of climate activism that coincides with a UN climate summit. 

I only heard about Friday’s strike the night before, and because of the extremely short notice, I wasn’t really planning on going (to the one in Denver). However, when I got to school, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. At one point, my hands were shaking. I took that as my cue that I needed to go. I couldn’t concentrate on school when I knew I could be joining a worldwide movement for something I really care about. 

So I walked out of my math class and drove home to make a sign and get to Denver by 11:00 AM. 

My mom, who’s pretty experienced with protests, helped me scramble everything together. I jumped in the car and definitely didn’t speed at all to Union Station. 

I was a little late because traffic and parking were scary, so the crowd was already huge when I got there. The sun was out full-blast, the only shade provided by skyscrapers. It was hard to hear anything because so many people were talking. One old guy in neon orange with a bike was walking around and saying, “Thank you for being here,” which made me feel warm and happy inside. Circles of girls with Hydro Flasks stood together, one of them holding a sign that read, “VSCO girls care more than the government.” A mom with a stroller navigated through the horde. One group with matching T-shirts had a giant parachute with Earth painted on it. Some of my favorite signs were “If it were Father Earth, the government might give a [crap]”, “There is no Planet B!”, and “Yo mama’s so hot, she’s experiencing rising sea levels”. As usual with protests, it felt amazing to be around so many people all fighting for the same thing, like a football game but way better. 

We started marching maybe ten minutes after I arrived, flooding the 16th Street Mall with shouting voices and cardboard signs. There were several cheers under classic formats, like “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Climate change has got to go!” and “This is what democracy looks like!”. Two or three people would start out a cheer, and it would eventually spread to the entire march as more and more joined in, much like how the climate strikes all started. 

Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old environmental activist from Sweden, is the main leader of the global climate strikes. She has skipped school every Friday since August 2018 to protest in front of the Swedish parliament. Sometimes others joined her, sometimes she was alone. But her actions grew to the global climate strike I participated in.

And she’s our age! There are a lot of limits on teenagers, but Thunberg’s a living testament to the fact that age can’t stop you from making a difference. In fact, when it comes to climate change, young people should have more to say than anyone else. We have to live with a broken planet. Those old politicians? They’ll die of old age before climate change turns deadly.

The march ended at the Colorado State Capital Building. The moment I saw the front steps, I was cresting a grassy hill and emerging from the shade of the trees. Some were reluctant to go right on the stairs because they’re all up front, and that’s where the microphone for the speakers was. But then the MC, an American Indian/Mexican guy in a cowboy hat, invited all of the young people to come onto the steps. Most of those who went up were high schoolers, but ages ranged down to elementary kids. 

There were at least ten people who spoke up on the steps, most, if not all, of them People of Color (POC). This allowed a unique perspective on climate change because rising heat tends to affect POCs more than white people. POCs are usually poorer because racism is, unfortunately, a thing, and poor people can’t always afford air conditioning bills and have to live in the cheaper and hotter parts of town. Some of the American Indian speakers talked about how capitalism has taken their lands for pipelines and violated their cultural beliefs of preserving natural resources. 

One girl sang three songs under the climate change theme. Two of them she’d written herself, one right after Obama left office. The other was a hilarious parody of “This Land is Your Land” where she sang, “This land is used for corporate greed.” (“This land was made for you and me.”)

Near the beginning, several Colorado candidates for public office signed pledges to fight for policy for climate change prevention and clean energy.

However, the speakers also emphasized personal action. We can’t just expect politicians to do everything. Chances are they won’t or can’t. We also need to do the little things every day to help the Earth, like picking up trash and reducing our emissions when possible.

That’s what I mainly took away from the climate strike. Of course, I already pick up trash and try to save water and all that, but this event made me reevaluate what I do. If everyone did that, everything would be so much better. This is super cliche, but no matter how insignificant your life may feel, you can actually make a difference.

At the end of all the speeches, I was feeling hot and tired, which really punctuated the conversation about rising temperatures and other climate stuff. I rode the free mall bus on the way back to my car, and I heard two kids that had attended the rally (maybe nine years old?) talking about what they’d just witnessed. They were so energetic and passionate about it. They gave me hope for the future of the world, along with everyone else who came out to the climate strikes. This is the sort of thing that will save the Earth.