UPDATE 9/28: Hundreds of activists, including students from elementary schools to universities, participated in Friday's walkout. They marched from the Wells Fargo bank to the farmer's market parking lot and made stops along the way. These activists joined millions of others around the world as part of the week-long Global Climate Strike.
Climate change has been in the news this week as world leaders met for the U.N. Climate Action Summit. With Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, 16, at the forefront, millions of people around the world are demanding immediate action on climate change. Tomorrow, students in Santa Cruz will make their voices heard too.
Students from about 11 schools, ranging from elementary schools to universities, will walkout Friday afternoon. Activists of all ages will converge near the Wells Fargo bank just after 2p.m. and march through downtown Santa Cruz.
Tamarah Minami, an 8th grader at Mission Hill Middle School, helped organize the event. Minami says the walkout will end at the farmers’ market parking lot with music, art activities and a youth mic for speeches.
“I just want Friday to just be the beginning of us working together to stop climate change,” said Minami.
Like many young people, Minami is worried about worsening wildfires in California and frightening predictions about what could potentially happen with sea level rise.
“Like in 50 years, my house is supposed to be underwater, so that's kind of scary,” Minami said.
On Wednesday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. For the report, over 100 scientists from nearly 40 countries reported on the latest science about the impacts of climate change.
The study found that melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise to speed up.
“While sea level has risen globally by around 15 cm during the 20th century, it is currently rising more than twice as fast – 3.6 mm per year – and accelerating,” according to the IPCC press release.
Minami would like to see more climate change curriculum in school and small steps locally, like more bike accessible places in Santa Cruz.
Jessica Taft studies youth activism and has written two books on the topic. She’s an associate professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz.
Taft says young people have been been a central part of social movements throughout history, from the civil rights movement to organizing against gun violence in schools. She hopes adults really listen to what these young people have to say.
“And actually do something about it, right. That it shouldn't just be a moment to say, ‘oh isn't it wonderful that young people are involved,’ and then move on, right. We need to actually take this seriously and work with these ideas,” Taft said.
Taft wrote an op/ed about this message, published in the San Francisco Chronicle last week.
Friday’s planned walkout in Santa Cruz marks the culmination of events hosted by activists of all ages throughout the past week. Two days ago, over 50 people lined Pacific Street and held up signs with news headlines about climate change.
Lynda Marin with Citizens Climate Lobby helped organize that event.
“There’s a lot of news, more and more news about our climate,” she said. “So we’re trying to bump up people’s awareness that they might want to do something about this emergency that we’re all in.”
On Wednesday, Greta Thunberg tweeted, “See you in the streets this Friday!”