On Sept. 20, students from across the globe took to the streets for the largest projected climate protest in history. The main objective of the international climate strike was to give youth a platform to protest government and business inaction on climate change legislation. And it was all started by a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg. Recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Thunberg inspired kids and adults of all ages to participate in this massive climate strike that spanned over 150 countries.
A crowd of around 250 people stretched along Donner Pass Road from Northwoods Boulevard nearly to Highway 89 at 12:30 p.m. They were led by students from Truckee High School’s Envirolution Club and from Sierra Expeditionary Learning School (SELS).
“People need to take responsibility for their own actions and they need to help inform other people, like we’re doing right now,” said SELS eighth-grader Marion Snideman. “I think Greta Thunberg and the movement is really inspiring and helpful because it’s raising awareness about the issue, and letting people know who otherwise wouldn’t be aware of it.”
National companies such as Patagonia, Burton, Jones Snowboards, and Protect Our Winters (POW), closed their shops across the country and encouraged employees to show up in person to stand in solidarity with the strikers.
“We’re out here to act on climate and really to stand with the kids, who are what we’re fighting for,” said Jeremy Jones, founder of Jones Snowboards.
Jones told Moonshine Ink a few of his ideas of what the North Tahoe community can do to help combat climate change. “I think the biggest thing is, as the Town of Truckee, we buy a lot of energy. Our PUD can decide what kind of energy we get, and so I think that’s a huge opportunity to be a leader and to just demand clean energy,” he said. “But in general, I think as far as towns go in this country, I think there’s a lot to be proud of as far as Truckee, and we just have to keep leading by example.”
Tahoe City resident and POW ambassador Douglas Stoup believes the solutions to climate change are out there, but it will require putting funding behind the right ideas to actually accomplish these things.
“There are carbon capture machines, kelp bed farms — there are answers — so it’s not doom and gloom,” Stoup said. “We can change this thing, and we all just need to come together to do it. Obviously our administration isn’t really in a right frame of mind to do that, but we need to do it from a grassroots level.”
Young people from all over the world are inheriting a planet that is changing more rapidly than ever imagined, many calling it a “climate catastrophe.” And the numbers prove that youth are refusing to back down. According to NPR, the U.S. alone was projected to have 800 marches across all 50 states. Vice News reported an estimated 300,000 marchers across Australia, and The New York Times announced that the city allowed its 1.1 million public school students to skip classes without penalties in order to join the climate strike.
“This is not the time and place for dreams, this is the time to wake up,” Thunberg told members of Congress in a Sept. 18 speech. “This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. You cannot solve a crisis without treating it as one. Stop telling people that everything will be fine. As it looks now, everything won’t be fine.”
Back at the Truckee march, another SELS eight-grader, Tatum Akers, offered her own do-or-die conclusion: “We’re out here because we want to save our Earth and we all want to live our whole lives. We don’t want to die due to climate change.”