Students fight for climate justice
By Natalee Litchfield for The Molalla Pioneer
A stroller covered in stuffed animals claiming "save me," giant puppets of oil tycoons with black ink streaming from their eyes, students chanting "hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go" in unison, and a united people scared at what their future may hold if the climate crisis continues to unfold.
On Friday, Sept. 20, Oregonians gathered in Portland to strike for the environmental uproar that is commonly regarded as "climate change." Although the "Fridays for Future" movement was started by a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg, more than 4 million people across the world gathered on Friday, according to VOX. Among them were three Molalla High School students.
While the movement may have skeptics that claim the climate is only adapting naturally, the reality that human activity is warming our climate has been accepted by the United Nations, NASA, and 97 percent of climate scientists alike. In fact, the first discoveries of climate change were by Exxon Mobil in 1977. Not only did they withhold the information from the public for 11 years, but they helped create the Global Climate Coalition — a former alliance established to question the basis of concern for climate change.
Presently, the UN reports that we have until 2030 to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent. This may require changes in transportation, energy use, diet, and even the clothing industry.
If the world fails to act, there will be unprecedented natural disasters, major ecosystems will collapse, and people everywhere will face deadly health issues.
I am proud to admit that I am one of the MHS students that joined the march this past Friday. While I was largely encouraged by my peers, there was an evident lack of participation within Molalla students as a whole.
"I think that climate change is one of the main problems for the world and our next few generations," said Eddy Lao, a current Senior at MHS. "But I don't believe [I] myself could make a change."
Sadly, Lao wasn't alone in his sentiment. The lack of student participation commonly came back to the same idea — 'I can't make a difference.'
While the founder of the Fridays for Future movement, Greta Thunberg, defies this notion, it makes sense that students feel hopeless in the face of the climate crisis.
"We didn't create this problem, but we are the ones who have to pay for it," said Lola McElhaney, a Junior at MHS. "And that is pretty frustrating."
In reality, we need large-scale innovation to combat the climate catastrophe. While being the product of change may seem easier then being the maker of it, it is necessary for people of all ages to step up. Whether that means attending the next march, advocating to those around you, installing solar panels, or eating a veggie burger, the future is quite literally resting on our choices.
"What you do now, we children cannot undo in the future," said Thunberg. "So please, treat the crisis as the crisis it is and give us a future."