Voices resounded across Haber Green with chants of “Climate change is not a lie; do not let our planet die!” during the Global Climate Change Protest on Sept. 27. The protest, hosted by Arcadia’s Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) club, was one of thousands happening around the world at the same time.
The youth climate change movement—led by leaders such as Isra Hirsi, Autumn Peltier, and Bruno Rodriguez, among many others—is a multi-faceted, supranational movement that transcends borders and demands that government officials take action on climate change. School strikes for the climate, also known as Fridays for Future, encourages school students to take time off from class to participate in demonstrations focused on preventing further global warming and climate change.
The movement began last year when Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student, started spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament. It wasn’t long before Thunberg’s protest received international media attention, and students around the world began protesting every Friday with her.
Students and faculty alike spoke at Arcadia’s protest, all with their own reasons for attending. Representative Steve McCarter was also in attendance. I felt happy as I looked around at my fellow peers, all chanting together on the green and nodding in agreement while the speakers laid out their own reasons for protesting.
Kara Richards ’20, the event’s announcer, started off by saying, “Our generation does not have the luxury of buying whatever we want and eating whatever we want without thinking of the consequences. We need to act now or we will never get another chance.”
Freshman Christina Modugno ’23 talked about how it should not have to be up to the youth to fix this problem: “We should be worrying about school and friends, but instead we are trying to change the world.”
Richard Kaplan, professor of Environmental Science and Policy, spoke about the real harms of ignoring climate change: “Denying climate change is not only a lie, it is also a crisis, and we are running out of time. You don’t need to leave Pennsylvania to see the effects of climate change. We are the number one state in the country for lyme disease.”
Students from different clubs on campus spoke, highlighting the importance of making the government take responsibility. Olivia Grajewski ’20, president of the Environmental Club, stated, “I’m here today because I’m angry. I know it may seem impossible for us to do anything about climate change, but just by being here, you are already doing it. Learn about sustainability. Educate others. Speak to your representative. Let your voice be heard. But most importantly, go out and vote for the people who we’re giving the power to.”
Some students stopped by just to check out the event, and some were dedicated climate activists. No matter their reasons for attending, I was impressed to see how Arcadia community members came together to demand that the government take action and pay attention to the climate crisis. Being at the event and seeing Arcadia students show up for what they cared about really showed me how important youth are in the climate change movement.
After all, it is our lives and our children’s lives that will be affected. And while I may not be at all happy with the way our current government has refused to act on climate change, I am proud to be a part of a community that cares and actively tries to make positive change in the world.
Photos by Charity Frye ’21.