School strike for the climate: Skolstrejk för Klimatet


Students walked out of school to protest for climate justice on Friday, March 15th, 2019.

You’re out taking a lunch break, and pass by Columbus Circle. As you are bustling by you notice that kids, youth and parents alike are yelling, “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” the voices and cheers are becoming louder and louder. You pull out your phone and begin recording the pedestrians walking by.

Children, teenagers, and young adults from all around the globe participated in the Youth Climate Strike on Friday, March 15th to push for more action against climate change.

Students at the NYC iSchool were among some of its supporters, who protested the lack of worry about the climate from policy makers, and impact that the climate crisis will have if we do not influence change.

Frida Jackson, a freshman at the NYC iSchool, stated that “we only have 12 years to make a change before it’s too late.”

Students are frustrated, but not discouraged. An article by Juliet Eilperin and Carol Morello for The Washington Post stated that we only have a bit over a decade left until it is too late for us to recover. At the sight of the protest, various teenagers were furious about this issue. Many chanted, “12 years left!” over and over.

Some people wondered why students needed to walkout of school in order to prove that climate change is important. Why couldn’t students just march? The answer comes from a 16 year old girl in Sweden.

Greta Thunberg has been walking out of her school every Friday since the beginning of the school year to emphasize the urgency for environmental protection laws.  She attended a conference at the UN, where she told negotiators, “…that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.”

Thunberg has influenced students worldwide to walk out of their schools to protest against the lack of enforcement against climate change. Students expressed this by writing skolstrejk för klimatet on signs, which translates in English to school strike for the climate.

Senior at the NYC iSchool, Olivia Matz, organized the walkout by contacting the perpetrators of the climate strike and spreading awareness about it through social media. She remarked that “protesting just shows people in charge that we are not okay with what’s going on right now and we need more action against climate change.”

Matz believes that the fight to end climate change is worth much more than a single late or detention at school. She continued to explain how there are multiple problems regarding climate change that must have attention brought to them.

Matz said that although there were people present who didn’t take it seriously, or may have used it as an excuse to leave school, many who participated were very active and serious about the protest: “a lot of people walked out and left, but I think it still proves a point of people not being in school.” She admitted to not having total control of what motivated some students to join the strike, “you can’t control people who want to do their own thing. That’s always going to happen and it sucks, but it still happens.” She further justified the march by adding on “a lot of people actually do care about the environment that did come, so that’s what counts.”

Matz elaborates on that fact that there are many things that need improvements in order to save our environment,  “there is a lot of climate racism that exists, and that’s where the term ‘environmental/climate justice’ comes from.”

Frida Jackson also added that she stood marching for 8 hours without a break, and reported having lost her voice by the time the march had settled down. She walked out of school because “this generation is the generation that is going to be alive when our planet is being destroyed.” Many other youth advocates also agreed that our generation has to take action in order to get older ones to hear us out.

Jackson understood where the controversy of walkouts originated, but she reassured, “there isn’t much correlation between the environment and schools, the point is to show public disobedience and to show that we really care about this.”

Although a topic such as climate change is not meant to be polarizing, walking out of school adds more controversy to the issue. Not all of the members of the NYC iSchool were profusely urgent about walking out in the middle of the day. It has actually been contradicted if it was even a “walkout” at all.

“It would have been better if it was a march and not a walkout, because a walkout can just be an excuse to leave school,” NYC iSchool freshman Piper DeMartino admits. She doesn’t see why people need to walkout to prove a point: “It’s not a walkout if your parents sign you out of school.” DeMartino doesn’t understand why some students acted as if they were breaking a rule to leave school if parents gave them consent to beforehand.

Others don’t see a correlation between climate and school. On March 15, 2018, there was a walkout to protest for gun control. Many students stood up for action to be taken against gun violence. In a walkout organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting, many left their schools in the middle of the day to participate in the March For Our Lives. So, when students walked out of school about a month after the shooting, the connection between school shootings and school was clear. Climate change, on the other hand, doesn’t show a direct correlation.

Beforehand, the walkout was being planned by the student body, first being initiated by the Social Activism Club. Members of the club and other students joined the day before the protest in room 508 to make posters, in order to strengthen their voice during the protest.

One of the club members, freshman Shoshana Hirschmann, spoke for change during the event. She marched in City Hall on that Friday because “our climate is threatened.” She adds the fact that policy makers need to have motivation to help our environment, “different political action committees are pushing them to not advocate for climate justice.” Hirschmann concluded that we need to not only bring “national attention” to this issue, because “global action” is urgently needed.

Georgia Badonsky is a 9th grader at the NYC iSchool. took to attending the walkout while still acknowledging “I obviously don’t expect immediate change,” since she admits that lawmakers are being stubborn about the issue. Badonsky decided to protest, however, she “thinks that politicians are gonna have to start taking this a lot more seriously.”

She argued that, “Walkouts make sense as a form of protest. In school we are supposed to be taught about the world, but in too many classrooms kids aren’t being informed.” Their lack of consideration is going to have a negative impact on the entire world. Badonsky added that she hopes “at least some new stuff is going to get passed.” It is put to reason why she marched if “climate change is a very big part of the world now…we can’t keep denying it…”

She believes that change can start with educating students: “We need to start teaching kids about it early on, and if kids don’t feel like they are getting the education they need, they need to speak out however they can. “

Jackson also found that one of the major reasons why she marched was because “by 2030 we need 100% renewable energy and right now [our politicians are] saying that it’s impossible, it is possible, and that’s why we need to protest, and we need to pass the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal is a list of proposals that will positively help prevent the effects of global warming. An article by Zachary B. Wolf, Here’s What The Green New Deal Actually Says, writes, “what was entered as official legislative language on Capitol Hill declares the government should take a stronger position on everything from cutting carbon emissions to giving every American a job to working with family farmers to retrofitting every building in the country.”

Many other countries have already began to take action against climate change. The World Resources Institute provides the steps that countries all over the world are taking to help preserve the environment. For instance, Mexico has already passed climate laws to help prevent the crisis. It has committed to reducing its Greenhouse gas emissions by 22% and black carbon by 51% before 2030. Other governments involved include China, Indonesia, India, Brazil, the European Union, Ethiopia, and Chile. America has yet to take action though, but the Green New Deal could change that.

According to The Youth Climate Strike website, one major purpose of the march was to push for the climate crisis to be declared as a natural emergency, since there are supposedly only twelve years until we have caused too much destruction for us to recover from. There were many demands that marchers intended to bring attention to. Getting the Green New Deal approved for legislation would be a great achievement towards saving our planet from a point of no return.

Other demands would include discontinuing all infrastructure projects that put fossil fuels into the air and enforcing the consideration of actual scientific research in government decisions about the environment. Also, it is noted that there should be more comprehensive education on the environment available to students in grades K-8.

It’s quite obvious that advocates against climate change won’t be backing down anytime soon. The survival of our planet has become an dire issue, and these young protesters are just a fraction of the voice who are powering through to help the cause. Students from the NYC iSchool, New York City, the United States, and all around the world rejoiced (and likely will again) to work together against this issue. Activists like Greta Thunberg and the organizers of the iSchool walkout are just a few of the strong voices taking charge in promoting climate justice.