By: Mackenzey Wilson
If the title of this post seems foreign to you, you might want to listen up. It’s September, and that means that- along with cheesy 70’s music- we’re also celebrating Biodiversity/Environmental Awareness month. However, this year is not like any we’ve ever experienced. This September, we are also celebrating the world’s first month of international “School Strike for the Climate” or “Skolstrejk for Klimatet” (Thunberg).
By now, we’re all aware of the greenhouse gas crisis occurring in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has reached a record high. This August, carbon dioxide levels hit 409.95 parts per million! Now this number may seem arbitrary, but it’s actually a lot. And with humans carrying on business as usual, this number is only projected to rise. Assuming that increased carbon dioxide means a chain reaction of poor environmental outcomes; one would assume that world leaders would attempt to reverse these effects. However, as many of us have noticed, politics aren’t as black and white as we sometimes hope.
But what do Swedish school strikes and climate change have to do with politics? The answer lies in the story of a 16-year-old, Swedish, environmental activist. Her name is Greta Thunberg- you might know her as the young woman who for the last year, has been leaving school every Friday to protest climate change at the Swedish Parliament (NPR). She’s caught the eye of media networks from all over the world and is the trailblazer of the “School Strike for Climate” movement.
In interviews (and at world conferences for climate), Greta has been outspoken about her disappointment in world leader’s negligence against climate change. In a recent Ted Talk, she posed the question, “If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn't it made illegal?” (Ted). A simple, yet valid observation meant to spark curiosity and more importantly action from our governments.
Now, Greta is a rare example of a young person who became famous for using their voice to demand change from politicians. Powerful actions, such as Greta’s, do not require mass attention to make a difference. As college students, we too have the power to demand more from our local governments. Though we may feel powerless at times, we are a community of motivated scholars! If there’s ever a time to make a difference, it’s now. And hey, you might just be the next Greta Thunberg.
This September, whether you participate (on the 13th and 20th) in school strikes at Pullman’s town hall, boycott plastic straws in the dining hall, or use toothy tabs while brushing your teeth in your dorm hall - take action against climate destruction! As we’ve seen, you are never too young to make a difference.
And if nothing else- at least enjoy a good September song:
Photo Credit: Time Magazine