A Version of this Article Was Originally Published on September 22, 2019 in My Green Montgomery.org.
In 2007, I took part in the first Power Shift conference in DC. I was still in college and had just learned about what climate change is and how it’s going to alter the face of our planet. Power Shift was, and still is, an annual event bringing together young people concerned about how to stop global warming. At the time, it was the largest youth activist event on climate change in history. Not anymore.
On September 20th, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide took to the streets to tell their governments, corporation leaders, and the general public that we need to act now on this burning issue. The protests have been largely led by the youth who see their futures being annihilated in the face of this crisis.
In front of the US Capitol building those young and old shared their fears and hopes for our planet. They held signs saying, “The water is rising and so are we,” “Protect the earth, my grandchildren live here,” and “Make earth great again.” Little girls wore fairy princess dresses and declared that “Climate change isn’t a fantasy.” Toddlers held signs demanding “more trains”.
Protesting may seem like an ineffective method for taking action on such a substantial issue, but raising the profile about our climate crisis is an important strategy that’s still needed in the US. While climate denial is on the decline, 15% of Americans are still nonbelievers. That’s three times higher than the global average for climate deniers. Until more people wake up to the climate reality we’re facing, we’ll continue to be too slow enacting changes that will save us from the worst effects of rising temperatures.
If you weren’t able to protest, but want to make an impact, speak up! Your voice is your weapon against denial. Write to congress. Vote with your dollars every day. Refuse to buy what you don’t need. Eat less meat. Tell the cashier why you don’t want a plastic bag, even if they give you a weird look. Be kind. Know that even if people aren’t actively working on this issue they could be facing some consequence from it one way or another. Give to climate organizations doing work on the ground. Don’t give up hope. As David Orr says, “Hope is an imperative.”
Take a look at some photos from the climate strike in DC below.