Dublin, Ireland/Munich, GermanySusanna Nocchi/Jennifer Lachs for Interesting Engineering
In what is going to be known in history as the movement started by children who wanted to change the world, thousands of people gathered in cities all over the world united by the Global Climate Strike.
Indeed, in every corner of the planet, thousands of students inspired by Swedish 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg began a one-week Global Climate Strike that will last from September 20 to 27.
But not only students. Children and teenagers are joined and supported by thousands of adults, entrepreneurs, global scientists, and businesses in what is probably a one-of-its-kind environmental protest. The demand? To end the age of fossil fuels.
An alarming cry for help led by children who demand governments and world leaders to take action to save their future, a future they want to live on this planet.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”- Mahatma Gandhi
A little over a year ago in August, Greta Thunberg started weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish Parliament every Friday. It was her alone. She was skipping school to make her voice heard.
Soon after, thousands of other young climate activists got inspired by Greta's determination and courage, and started doing the same in over 100 cities across the globe.
During this week's strike, there have been so far 5,225 events in 185 countries on seven continents and counting. In Germany alone, more than 1.4 million people took action across the cities on Friday. In New York, over 250,000 people turned out.
Sadly, China did not authorize any protests in the country. However, the country's greenhouse gas emissions are the highest in the world.
CNNreported that Greta Thunberg said: "This is not a one-time thing. We are not just protesting to let them see that we care, we are protesting until they do something. We are going to put pressure on them and just keep on going. I think we should continue until they do something."
Greta Thunberg meets Barack Obama: "We're a team!"
"Just 16, GretaThunberg is already one of our planet's greatest advocates. Recognizing that her generation will bear the brunt of climate change, she's unafraid to push for real action." -Barack Obama
When asked if she was going to meet with United States President Donald Trump, a longtime climate crisis denier, she responded that his only message to him is "listen to the science, and he obviously doesn't do that," she said.
"If no one has been able to convince him about the climate crisis, about the urgency, then why should I be able to do that? So, I'm just going to now focus on spreading awareness," Thunberg said.
Instead, Greta Thunberg met with former U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington D.C., where the young Swedish environmental activist was promoting environmental issues and raising awareness on climate change.
Barack Obama was a champion on addressing environmental issues while in office.
Greta Thunberg, who no longer travels by airplane and eats a vegan diet, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a zero-carbon emissions sailing boat. She arrived in New York in August to speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. The Summit will take place in New York on Monday, September 23.
Scientists join children in the Global Climate Strike
"Unite behind the science." -Greta Thunberg
This global climate strike is not just a children's game. This is not just skipping school for fun. This is taking action to do what has to be done to save the planet from a dark future, or no future at all. Thousands of scientists joined the climate strike.
In Dublin, Luke Corkery, a university student said: "Blown away ... This is a movement led by young people across the globe. We're not looking for an excuse for a day off school or college; we're standing for the future of our planet."
Nature, the International Journal of Science, spoke with scientists who were joining the climate strike around the world demanding more action to fight climate change. The scientists told Nature about their motives and expectations to join the students' movement.
Ana Wegier, a population geneticist at the Botanical Garden of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, told Nature she is most worried about the silent consequences of a warmer planet and how climate change is reducing the genetic diversity of crops and plants upon which millions of people depend.
“What we’re losing is the opportunity to survive many of the changes to come,” she said.
Engineers can be a part of the solution
Meanwhile, in London, Trevor Keeling, an engineer and sustainability consultant for BuroHappold Engineering, told Nature that at least 30 engineering firms are committed to taking part in the campaign to help end the climate emergency.
"Engineers can be a part of the solution," he said. "We all need to get together as a planet, and do it collectively."
In Berlin, Pao-Yu Oei, an industrial engineer at the Technical University of Berlin, whose research focuses on social and economic consequences of phasing out fossil fuels — a burning issue in Germany, where coal still produces more than one-third of electricity, told Nature: “It is very clear that Germany will miss its climate goals if it doesn’t quit coal very soon.”
“But what researchers say doesn’t always convince the powers that be. We will strike because civil society must absolutely put pressure on policymakers to act,” he said.
Climate Strike: All together now
All ages, all cultures, and all timezones. Millions of people united across the globe supporting school strikers. Workers at giant firms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon among others join the protesters to demand urgent action to cut carbon emissions.
According to the 2015 Paris Agreement, the rise of global temperatures must be restricted to below 1.5ºC. Despite this, last year there was a record high in carbon emissions.
The Paris Agreement aims to prevent the worst effects of global warming. The agreement, due to go into force in 2020, requires its 195 participating nations to focus on the reduction of carbon emissions. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
People who gathered in New York to hear Greta Thunberg's speech witnessed her courage and determination when saying: "We are doing this to wake the leaders up. We are doing this to get them to act. We deserve a safe future. And we demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?"
“We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse, even if it means skipping school or work, because this is more important. Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”
A movement started by children is a movement with no agenda. They see what is happening in the world due to the climate crisis; they want a better future.
The United Nations Climate Action Summit takes place tomorrow in New York.