Most of the politicians and policy makers who wield the power to reverse the climate crisis are likely not going to suffer any serious consequences. They will be long gone when the youth of this world grow up.
Sixteen-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg began a student strike in 2018 to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change. She started a movement that quickly spread among students worldwide, who went on to organize and lead their own #FridaysforFuture strikes.
"Why study for a future," young people say, "when it may not be there?"
I've been following these students, most of them high schoolers, as they walk out of school every week to speak up for their futures. I'm in awe of how organized, motivated, and inspiring they are. Now, one year later, they're saying, "Adults, we need you, too!"
He's right. Today, September 20, is the chance for adults to join young people in potentially the biggest day of action for the climate ever.
In the U.S. alone, more than 450 climate strikes have been planned, and globally 117 countries are taking part. Find one near you.
"Young people bring the energy to the movement, but older generations have the wisdom for us to make progress and stymie the climate crisis," says 17-year-old Jerome Foster II, a high school senior in Washington, D.C. who has been speaking alongside Thunberg this week with #FridaysforFuture.
"Many adults feel like this is out of their control, and they won't be here when the worst happens," says 16-year-old Hannah Testa, a sustainability advocate who's striking today in Atlanta. "But we are going to face the consequences."
Jamie Margolin, 17, a Colombian American high school senior in Seattle and founder of Zero Hour who has also been in D.C. this week, says it's important for parents, in particular, "to strike and model for their children what it looks like to stand up for justice and to have courage in the face of dire situations."
Dulce Ceballos, 18, who has been organizing the Bay Area Climate Strike at the San Francisco Federal Building today (where I'll be ), is taking her two brothers to today, although her parents can't go. "My mom is a cook and my dad is a gardener," Ceballos says, "so it's hard for them to take even a few hours off work."
That said, Ceballos adds, "I think that every parent who's able to strike, should. They should be role models."
Employees at Amazon were the first to announce they'd be walking out on Friday, marking the first time in the company's 25 years that workers at the Seattle headquarters will participate in a strike.
Tech workers across the country—at Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—soon followed suit with announcements, saying they'd also be walking off the job to demand climate action.
"I truly appreciate their support and solidarity," adds Ceballos.
"When you strike with us, you are telling us 'I love you and I’m here for you,'" says 13-year-old Haven Coleman, Co-Founder of the US Youth Climate Strike from Denver who'll be striking today with Thunberg in New York City, where the Department of Education has given permission for students to leave school to participate in the strike.
"We are calling on all of you because if your house was on fire," adds Coleman, "you'd act immediately to save your kids. You'd call the authorities to save your home. We need you to act."
Helen Dang, a 15-year-old high school junior who's headed to a rally in San Jose, says, "Saying is not the same as doing. Actions speak much louder than words when it comes to justice." She adds that families who "aren't yet being directly affected by climate change yet must recognize the privilege of this. Our entire will be affected soon enough."
"We need adults to help us get into the rooms we can't get into without them," adds 18-year-old Elsa Mengistu, who'll be striking at Howard University where she goes to school "to pressure our school into being more environmentally conscious. We need adults to create waves of change in their own circles."
Young people have been carrying a torch high this year, crying out and seeking our support.
They are asking us with a desperate clarity to act when our leaders are not.
It's time to take a few hours off from your usual routine—and much more—to stand behind young people in our country. It's time to follow their lead.