FEATURE — December 12, 2019 at 12:54 pm

National climate movement partners with local activists to organize rallies supporting their cause

Searching for Change. Cypress Bay High School student activist Martina Velásquez and Broward County Human Relations Committee representative Elijah Manley oversee the Fort Lauderdale climate change protest, which they organized. Photo by Darian Williams
Searching for Change. Cypress Bay High School student activist Martina Velásquez and Broward County Human Relations Committee representative Elijah Manley oversee the Fort Lauderdale climate change protest, which they organized. Photo by Darian Williams

Climate change activists in Florida organized protests in a multitude of locations varying from the Florida capitol building in Tallahassee to the Broward County Public School Board building in Fort Lauderdale in order to call for affirmative climate change action on Friday, Sept. 20. 

The Fort Lauderdale protest consisted mostly of student activists that missed school in order to attend the strike and are adamant about making a change to protect the environment. 

In attendance at the rally was Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sophomore, Faith Hartwig.

Hartwig, also a member of the newly revamped ‘Save What’s Left’ club at MSD, came out to the protests to support her best friend, one of the coordinators of the Broward rally. Hartwig also attended the protest to ensure that her voice, along with those who are concerned about the environment continue to be heard. 

“I wanted to support my best friend Martina and the cause because I think we need climate action immediately,” Hartwig said. “I started getting involved my freshman year after I realized how bad the environment was getting. Martina shed some light on the issue towards me and she was very passionate about it, which inspired me. I really wanted to be that committed too and show others how you can make a change if you care about it enough.”

For many of these student activists, the strike was only the beginning. Many shared their future plans and hopes regarding their involvement in the national climate movement.

“I really hope that we let politicians know that this is an issue that we truly care about. They’re starting to see that young people truly are going to come out to vote and if we can make this one of our voting issues, politicians would do it in order to get us to come out and support them,” local protester and North Broward Preparatory School student Jordan Schiff said.

These Florida protests were simply a subsidiary of the current global climate change movement. 

Climate change has been a controversial topic since the discovery of its effect on the environment. Subsequently, the national movement against climate change was founded in 2014, sparking the interest of thousands of newfound environmentalists. The primary organization within this movement is the People’s Climate Movement, which fights for environmentally-friendly changes through protests and petitions.

The People’s Climate Movement consists of various groups, such as the Climate Group and the Sierra Club, which advocate for political action. These groups are heavily focused on gaining support for the Green New Deal, a proposed resolution addressing climate change and other environmental issues. 

According to the People’s Climate Movement mission statement on their website, “the momentum around the Green New Deal is no joke — it’s clear that there’s a huge appetite in our country for comprehensive solutions to address the climate crisis, presenting the opportunity for bold and concrete legislation on climate change, jobs, racial justice, and economic justice.” 

In 2018, Swedish 15-year-old, Greta Thunberg, launched the “Fridays for Future” movement, where she encouraged the youth to skip school on Fridays and rally for their governments to make a change regarding climate change. 

“For well over a year, young people from all around the world have been striking from school every Friday demanding world leaders to take responsibility and to unite behind the science,” Thunberg said in an interview with Newsweek on Nov. 8. “They have not done that. The people in power continue to ignore us and to ignore the current best available science.”

Since then, Thunberg has partnered with a major climate change organization, 350.org, to continue these Friday protests all over the world. 

With the cooperation of 820 organizations, 350.org also conducted an international protest, called the Global Climate Strike, from September 20-27. Tied with the anti-Iraq war protests in 2003, this strike was one of the largest coordinated global protests in history, drawing over 7.6 million people to the streets of 185 countries demanding climate action according to The Guardian. *See page 18 for more information on 350.org

The mass activism of climate change has not ceased after these protests, as organizations are maintaining a strong presence on social media, urging people to tweet their state legislators and keep fighting for change.

This story was originally published in the December 2019 Eagle Eye print edition.

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Ashley Ferrer is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and an Editor-in-Chief for the Eagle Eye. Her extracurriculars include cheerleading, track and writing poems. In the future, she hopes to become a journalist.

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