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Our Planet Is in Trouble, and the Kids Have Had It with Adults Doing Nothing to Save It

Image Credit: Instagram

Politicians around the world are mostly concerned with wars, immigration troubles, terrorism, and how to get re-elected the next time they’re due to campaign.

The kids of the world, though, have a different agenda – and although many of them are still too young to vote, they’re not letting that stop them from telling politicians their concerns for the future. Last week, kids around the globe ditched a day of school in an effort to call attention to the lack of attention paid to the looming climate crisis.

Which makes sense, because these kids are going to be the ones holding the proverbial bag when the harrowing effects of climate change create a brave new world – and guess what? They’ve had enough of the adults who are supposed to be “leading” totally ignoring their future.

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On Friday March the 15th well over 1,5 million students went on school strike for the climate. We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference. Today I have written another response to the hate, to the critics and to the people who wants us to go back to school. Link in bio/Facebook #FridayForFuture #SchoolStrike4Climate

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on

There’s a growing global movement now, but it all started with one Swedish teenager with Asperger’s syndrome. Greta Thunberg (and her awesome pigtails) first protested outside the parliament building in Stockholm in August 2018, where she handed out flyers with climate facts on them. She kept it up, protesting every friday, week after week, and eventually she started to gain some notice. After she was invited to address climate officials gathered in Poland, her #FridaysForFuture campaign started to take off like a lightning fire all over the globe.

In Poland, she said “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what’s politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”

Kids in London, Hamburg, Brussels, and gathered in massive crowds last week to echo Thunberg’s message: do something about climate change, and do it now. It was kids around the globe who helped organize last weeks protest – the biggest one yet, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets in more than 100 countries.

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‪Last #climatestrike before the ? deep strike day 3/15! Lots of calls organizing @usclimatestrike, and a news crew came from NYC. Best part was meeting @finnlikeashark. He strikes now at the Capitol too! Comes down from the ?’s. Strike friends are the ?est friends. @GretaThunberg ‬

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Haven Coleman, a 12-year-old from Denver, has been leading the charge in the United States. Until recently, Coleman’s act has been a solo one, but now things are catching on in the U.S., too. She helped make that happen by banding together with 16-year-old Minnesota-based activist Isra Hirsi and 13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor of NYC – together, the trio formed US Youth Climate Strike and built a social media machine to get the word out about upcoming protests.

Truly, these kids are an inspiration, and I’m not the only one who thinks so: In early March, Greta Thunberg was officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

They’ve connected with hundreds on social media and received signal boosting help from environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Climate Reality Project, and the March for Science. The movement also overlaps with the kids backing the Green New Deal, the proposal introduced in Congress that outlines how to combat climate change while boosting the economy and combating injustice.

Lauren Maunus, a 21-year-old organizer with the Sunrise Movement, who backs the Green New Deal, is excited to welcome fresh blood into the fold.

“We are sharing this movement – youth taking back power. We need leaders to take this crisis as seriously as we are.”

Last month, student activists in California confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, to push her to support the Green New Deal and now San Francisco students are sitting in at the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi aking for similar support.

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Tomorrow we school strike for the climate in 1769 places in 112 countries around the world. And counting. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is needed. Let’s change history. And let’s never stop for as long as it takes. #fridaysforfuture #schoolstrike4climate #whateverittakes #climatestrike

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So far, no establishment politicians have voiced any real support for the GND, or for figuring out how to use it to jumpstart a more middle-of-the-road solution.

17-year-old Luci Paczkowski and others like her are hopeful that the more organized kids get, the more politicians might be willing to listen.

“I feel like it’s especially powerful when a group of kids get up together and say ‘Hey, this isn’t right.’ I’m still going through school, and maturing as a person, but I still believe that my voice is valid and you need to keep me in mind and protect my public trust.”

Climate scientists are behind the kids, too, and have signed an open letter supporting the kids’ efforts around the world.

“It is their lives that will be most profoundly impacted by the impacts of a changing climate. So they, more than any of us, deserve answers – and action.”

Whether or not the strikes and walkouts and protests and sit-ins will have the desired impact – or any impact at all – remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that the next generation isn’t content to sit back and wait their turn. It makes sense, then, that anyone hoping to lead in the future will need to not only listen to them, but take action on behalf of the earth, as well.