By Morgan Spehar
Global Climate Strike
As millions of people across the world skipped school and walked out of work to protest climate change and demand an end to fossil fuel use Friday, the Athens community did their part.
The international protest was part of the Fridays for Future campaign, a movement that encourages young people to walk out of school on Fridays to draw attention to climate change issues. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from climate advocate from Sweden, started the movement to call out politicians for their lack of action and recognition of the climate crisis.
The global climate strike is being called the largest climate protest in history.
“I think this is an important movement during our lifetime,” Maddie Sudnick, a Biological Sciences major at OU said. “I would like to see us shift away from nonrenewable energy and toward more energy that can be used for longer without damaging the environment.”
At Ohio University, the protest was organized by Village Bakery and various environmental groups from campus and the surrounding community. A dozen or so environmentally-related groups like the Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association set up tables talking about everything from converting to solar energy to voting socialist in the next election.
The group “Rethink Plastics” gave away Who Gives A Crap toilet paper, which was made out of 100% recycled material whenever someone pledged to change two things about their lives to use less plastic, such as giving up single-use plastic and using reusable bags at the grocery store.
The group that gathered at Village Bakery on East State Street September 20 was made up of a little over 100 people and consisted of student, faculty and local activists.
Rebecca Dale, a community member, was there with her granddaughter. “Our grandkids need a livable planet,” she said, “I’ve been concerned about the environment for 20 years now.”
Dale participated in the short march from Village Bakery to Factory Street Dance Studio, where volunteers from the climate strike participated in a “flash mob planting” of trees and other plants around the property (with the studio’s permission, of course). Around 50 community members participated in quickly changing the look of the studio’s front yard by digging out marked holes and putting donated plants into the landscape.
As they walked, people sang “The Voice of My Great Granddaughter,” a popular rallying cry for climate activists, urging people to think of future generations and the impact harmful environmental practices like fracking and oil drilling will have on them.
Others are encouraged to join future climate protests in solidarity with the international movement.
“It’s just really important to be another person in the crowd,” Athens High School senior Nora Sullivan said, “If 50 people come and protest, that’s 50 people that are saying they care.”
The event concluded with speeches and a strike bike ride into uptown Athens to demand action on climate change. The protest took place right before the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City, and protestors are hoping their voices were loud enough for climate change to take up significant talking time.
There will be another Global Strike on Friday, September 27.