CLAREMONT — A planned event at Broad Street Park drew mostly grownups for speeches and poster-wielding about climate change, while students around the globe did – or did not — walk out of school to demand political action on the issue.
The 11 students who showed up from Stevens High School came as part of Ms. Rioux’ English 4 class. In all, 40-50 people attended the event, which included singing (The Times They Are a-Changing) and postering.
“We’re studying persuasive essays,” said student Gabriel Faucher, who explained that Ms. Rioux encouraged them to evaluate the claims people made and how those people supported their claims.
“We’re here as observers,” added Rioux.
The global climate strike movement began in Europe and involves young students walking out of class, or out of school, to insist that political leaders address anthropogenic climate change. In New York City, the city’s 1.1 million students were allowed to leave class to join the demonstrations if they had their parents’ permission. By noon, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that over 3 million children had walked out of school for the climate strike, “and that’s not even counting North and South America!” Thunberg, 16, began climate striking in front of the Swedish parliament a year ago, when she was 15, and is credited with leading the movement.
A young woman who simply gave her first name, Olivia, stepped up to the mic to talk about how the fashion industry is a major cause of pollution, so she’s beginning a sustainable fashion line.
Charles Chenisse, a senior at Stevens, told the crowd “my knowledge is quite limited” about climate change but said his generation will soon have a lot more power. “We have to use that power responsibly.”
Jared Silvester, another student in Ms. Rioux’s class, offered his thoughts. “Apparently global warming has happened a few times before, and there’s always an ice age after. So, there will be global cooling.”
Silvester said he thinks humanity will survive, thanks to alternative energy, like “solar, geothermal, hydropower.”
Artist and adult Ernest Montenegro erected a large painting of a baby with its hand outstretched toward a tiny blue Earth. “It’s a climate emergency for our children,” said Montenegro. “I don’t think it could be any more symbolic than a baby holding a planet... Whether we move to the Moon or Venus, it could not be any better than here.”