Feb 24, 2019
by Tish Levee
On January 31st, nearly 300 people heard climate scientist Carl Mears, a board member at the Center for Climate Protection, address this question at Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center. See Duane DeWitt’s article on this event, “Better Late Than NEVER,” elsewhere in this issue.
Around the world, young people — who’ll be more affected than anyone else by global “weirding”—are leading the world on climate change. I’ve written about several of them before, but the leadership they are now exhibiting is formidable.
Greta Thunberg stood outside the Swedish Parliament last August 20th.
Holding a sign saying, “School Strike for the Climate,” she demanded Sweden lower carbon emissions per the Paris Agreement. The 9th grader pledged to protest till the general elections on September 9th, then decided to continue her protest every Friday. She inspired thousands of other students worldwide. In November 15,000 Australian students walked out; since then tens of thousands have joined the protests in nearly 20 countries. Greta says the Parkland shooting survivors’ “March for our Lives,” gave her the idea of striking.
Greta doesn’t just talk about protecting the climate, she lives it: she got her family to become vegan and stop flying to reduce their carbon footprint. In January, shortly after her 16th birthday, she spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In contrast to the delegates who arrived on nearly 1500 private jets, she took a train for 32 hours. Telling the forum, "I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day,” she added, “And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if you were in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire — because it is.”
Greta’s counterpart, 13-year old Alexandria Villasenor, sits at the UN weekly.
Even in the midst of polar vortex caused freezing weather, she’s sat each Friday at the UN headquarters in New York City since December 14th. Originally from Folsom, she remembers Folsom Lake drying up in the drought. Visiting family in Northern California last year, she suffered from the Camp fire smoke and decided she had to do something. Watching the UN Climate Summit (COP24), she heard Greta Thunberg speak and then learned about her strikes—which led her to sit weekly at the UN.
Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Villasenor are part of a cadre of young, fierce and mostly female activists organizing these protests. Several thousand scientists and academics are supporting this movement, also called “Fridays for the Future” and “Youth Climate Strikes.” On March 15, supported by some of the world's largest environmental groups, tens of thousands of kids in at least two dozen countries and nearly 30 US states plan to skip school to protest. Currently our closest strike is on the West Steps of the Capitol in Sacramento from noon to 5 PM. Keep posted at https://www.youthclimatestrikeus.org/.
It seemed to be the big climate news, but as I researched it, I realized this incredible youth movement was the really big story this month. There’s already tons of coverage on the GND in major media outlets, which as I mentioned last month, seem to have finally discovered climate change. This is even more so since newly elected Rep. Alexandria Octasio-Cortez (New York) and Sen. Jeff Markley (Oregon) introduced legislation for the New Green Deal. I hope you’ll check out the GND in the major media. This non-binding resolution outlines goals that must then be turned into policy and initiatives by congressional committees, such as the new Congressional Climate Crisis Committee. Jared Huffman, one of our two representatives, was just appointed to that committee. Both he and Rep. Mike Thompson co-sponsored the GND House Resolution; Senator Kamala Harris co-sponsored the parallel resolution in the Senate. Still, they need to hear from you. Sen. Feinstein so far is not a supporter; please let her know your views. Locally 350Sonoma.org has taken on the GND as a project. Check out their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/350Sonoma/.
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