Around 1.5 million people in over 120 countries took to the streets on Friday, March 15 as part of a worldwide climate strike, inspired by Greta Thunberg.
Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, shocked that no one seemed to be taking climate change seriously, started the protest movement last summer. She skipped school to sit outside parliament to protest her government’s lack of action on global warming.
Greta’s protests slowly began to get attention. Soon lots of people were taking part and organizing similar protests around the world. The strikes are usually held on Fridays, which the protesters call “Fridays for Future”. Though many adults have joined the strikes, the protesters are largely younger people who are worried that climate change will affect them much more than it will affect adults.
But Friday’s protest was the largest and most widespread ever. There were more than 2,000 separate protests in over 120 countries around the world.
While Europe was still a leader, Friday’s protests were truly global, with strikes also happening in Africa, Asia, Australasia, North America, and South America,.
And the numbers were large. Around 300,000 students protested in Germany. Australia, Canada, France, Italy, and the United States all had over 150,000 protesters. There were hundreds of smaller protests across the globe. Even in Hong Kong, China, where it is difficult to protest, around 1,000 students took part in the climate strike.
The protesters are frustrated by the lack of action on climate change. They are demanding that the world’s governments start treating climate change like an emergency right away. As Greta told a group of world leaders, “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
The protesters say the problem is too big to deal with in small steps. They believe the world must change its politics and the ways that it does business. “We need a whole new way of thinking,” Greta wrote in a recent post on the internet.
Reaction to the student protests has been mixed. Most environmental groups and many politicians have welcomed the student strikes. They think the strikes focus attention on an area where action is badly needed.
Other politicians have said that the students should remain in school. Some people have even suggested that the students are being “brainwashed” into protesting.
But the leaders of the student strikes are able to clearly explain the scientific facts behind the climate change emergency. Hundreds of scientists have signed a letter in support of the students.
Following Friday’s strike, Greta wrote, “We are just passing on the words of the science. Our only demand is that you start listening to it. And then start acting.”
Did you know…?
Three lawmakers from Norway have suggested Greta as a possible choice for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.