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Masked, Socially Distanced, and Mad as Hell: Global Youth Take to the Streets for Over 3,200 #ClimateStrike Events

Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg said young people are striking, "in a safe way and following Covid-19 guidelines, to demand those in power treat this like the urgent crisis it is."

Climate activists gather for a global day of action organized by the Fridays for Future youth movement during the coronavirus pandemic on September 25, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Omer Messinger/Getty Images)

Climate activists gather for a global day of action organized by the Fridays for Future youth movement during the coronavirus pandemic on September 25, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Omer Messinger/Getty Images)

Young advocates for ambitious climate action poured into the streets across the globe Friday—wearing masks and abiding by other local Covid-19 safety policies—for over 3,200 #ClimateStrike events that aim to pressure people in power to treat the planetary crisis like the emergency it is.

"Fridays For Future and the youth climate movement are striking again around the world, in a safe way and following Covid-19 guidelines, to demand those in power treat this like the urgent crisis it is," said Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swede whose solitary school strikes launched a global movement.

Though the demonstrations looked a bit different from last September—in Thunberg's country, gatherings are limited to 50 people, she explained on Twitter—the youth climate activists displayed their willingness to adapt so they can spread their message about the need for bold, urgent action.

Mya-Rose Craig, an 18-year-old British environmentalist, ventured to the Arctic, placard in tow, to kick off the most northerly protest on an ice floe. Craig told Reuters she was there to "try and make a statement about how temporary this amazing landscape is and how our leaders have to make a decision now in order to save it."

As Common Dreams reported earlier this week, U.S. scientists revealed Monday that Arctic sea ice shrank to the second-lowest extent since records began over four decades ago, prompting Arlo Hemphill, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA, to declare that "the Earth just rang another alarm bell in the climate emergency."

Craig, who traveled to her protest post on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, added, "I absolutely think that my generation has always had to think about climate change... which is why as we've got older there's been this massive wave of just this need for change, this demand for change when we realized the grown-ups aren't going to solve this so we have to do it ourselves."

"The most extraordinary aspect of this movement is realizing the unlimited potential of our generation," Eyal Weintraub of Youth for Climate Argentina said in a statement. "We have reached a point in history when we have the technical capacities to solve poverty, malnutrition, inequality, and of course global warming."

"The deciding factors for whether we take advantage of our potential will be our activism, international unity, and ability to develop the art of making the impossible possible," added Weintraub, whose remarks preceded the protests. "That's why it's so important that we are millions striking, virtually and physically, on the 25th."

Disha Ravi of Fridays For Future India explained that "I'm striking because we're living through the climate crisis. Heavy rains and lax measures taken by governments have led to millions of people being displaced because of floods, particularly in India. My house was flooded last week."

"There are multiple different impacts—my city is expected to run out of underground water by the end of the year," Ravi said. "The climate crisis is our reality, we're striking for our survival."

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"The climate crisis is our reality, we're striking for our survival."
—Disha Ravi, Fridays For Future India

Kevin Mtai, who is from Uganda and serves as African ambassador at Earth Uprising, highlighted some of the ways the human-caused climate crisis "is already having a huge impact on communities" across his continent and around the world.

"Unprecedented heavy rains and record floods across West, Central, and East Africa have affected millions of people in recent weeks, with more than 200 people dead and hundreds of thousands left homeless," said Mtai. "In the U.S. there are devastating wildfires. Climate breakdown is not something that is going to happen in the future, it is here and now."

Also noting the floods as well as expectations that 2020 will be among the hottest years on record, 350.org Africa team lead Landry Ninteretse said that "Covid-19 is still here with us but so is the climate crisis, leaders across Africa need to take this opportunity to build back better."

"Today, Africa's youths are once again calling for climate justice consisting of transitioning away from fossil fuels and building climate resilient economies powered by renewables before it's too late," added Ninteretse. "They are demanding a new normal that puts the well-being of people and climate action first, building a socially and environmentally just, zero carbon future."

That call for building a better future in the wake of the ongoing pandemic was echoed worldwide, including by Quang Anh Paasch of Fridays for Future Germany, who joined a major demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

"We are in the middle of a pandemic and we cannot forget that, but we also need to know that the climate crisis isn't taking a break," Paasch told DW. "The climate crisis is still here, so we need to take action and demand climate action."

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