Youth Lead Climate Change Activism


Millions of people around the world took part in a historical climate strike on Friday, September 20th, before the UN Climate Summit. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old, Swedish activist for climate change, led the 250,000-person strike in New York City.

The responsibility to stop further destruction to the Earth and its ecosystems is a growing international issue, especially with younger audiences like high school students to college-aged activists.

“We should definitely be more mindful of ourselves and our carbon footprints,” Maddie Dunlap (‘21) said. Maddie also remarked, “To have a successful world we need to treat it with kindness.”

The issue is reaching a political climax, as the damaging effects to the Earth will soon no longer be reversible according to scientists and activists. It will affect everyone’s future, but young people have the most to lose, facing a lifetime of environmental devastation. Scientists say the world’s warming has to stay under 2°C which is 450 carbon parts per million (ppm). The world is currently at 390 carbon ppm, and we are closing in on our safety limit quickly. Once we surpass this, the world is subject to heavier rainfall, partial loss of freshwater, and significant crop failure in crops such as rice, maize, wheat, soy, and more.  

“There is an issue and it’s beyond frustrating,” Cassidy Tokarski (‘20) said, who went to the Ann Arbor climate change strike because she wanted to make her voice heard. “Even though we may not feel like we are directly impacted, everything in the ocean and its ecosystem affects our lives.”

Greta Thunberg spoke at the UN Climate Summit, telling the world that youth shouldn’t always be the ones making change and hope. The lives of future generations are in the hands of current leaders. Although she gave a moving speech, the largest international contributors to greenhouse gasses, the United States, China, and India, spoke of little commitment to change. While politics remained unvaried, similar protests about the climate are expected to continue to draw attention to the issue.