Climate Strike Involves Anchorage Teens

On Sept. 20th, millions came together all around the world in what may be the largest climate strike ever seen.

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has long called for action, sitting alone outside of government buildings with a sign reading ‘Skolstrejk for Klimatet’, or ‘School Strike for Climate’ for a year before social media elevated her to the national activist darling she is today, Business Insider wrote. 

Thunberg spearheaded the movement, calling out officials and urging teens to take charge of the future of the planet they will one day inherit. 

The September strike was intended to make the people’s thoughts and feelings known, with the UN 2019 Climate Summit taking place in December. 

CBS News published early estimates saying at least four million people worldwide came together with signs and chants in the streets of countless cities. 

Anchorage had its own branch of the climate strike, with many gathering at Cuddy Park on Sept. 20th, despite the rain. 

Iris Montesano, a West freshman and active member of AYEA, or Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, took the challenge of organizing the strike head on.

Alongside widespread messages about climate preservation, the Anchorage branch had specific ideas in mind. 

Montesano said,“We want to spread awareness about climate change and make sure something is done to make state and federal legislators take action, fast. That includes limiting mining and logging, and setting strict limits on carbon and harmful gas emissions.”

AYEA had to apply for permits to hold the rally in the first place and get permission to sell food, plus outreach to make sure people knew about it. 

Outreach included making posters, phone calls to local news stations, multiple social media posts and word of mouth. 

It seemed it worked, because many showed up with posters, chants and enthusiasm. 

Montesano said, “I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but over 300 people showed up, and we were beyond content with that. Alaska is a relatively conservative state, so I wasn’t exactly expecting all of Anchorage to show up.

 “We are showing that we care just by speaking up at all. People around the world have been striking all week, and in bigger cities, the outcome has been heard.

“We will be heard. We have to be, because millions sacrificed their education to stand up for the only planet we have,̈ Montesano said. 

Derek Brewer, a teacher at Dimond, said, “I think that if you look at the nationwide surveys, the numbers, if you believe the numbers, show us that there’s enough people that climate change is problematic for them.

“I think anytime that you have that many people, young, middle aged or elderly who think that there’s a problem I think that needs to be addressed. On a personal level, I happen to believe the science.

“I think that any kind of flashpoint with that large of a population, even though many of them aren’t of voting age, they will become voting age. And if it motivates them to become more politically aware, that will lead to politicians in the near future to adjust their political views as to how to change to new ideas,̈  Brewer said. 

Geneva Jordan, a freshman here at Dimond, said, “My stance on climate change fluctuates from extremely worried at some points, to extremely unworried at others. I believe it’s an issue, just not as catastrophic as some make it out to be.”

There seem to be two camps: the ones who believe climate change is looming ever closer, like an angel of death, and the ones who think it’s far in the future. 

Jordan said, “Stopping climate change is out of the question, slowing it until it’s natural, maybe, but it will never stop. I just take comfort in even if we die the earth will survive for a very, very long time.

“It’s amazing these youth are so confident and efficient as to lead a movement, and at some point I think adults lose the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes, but there’s a reason teenagers shouldn’t rule kingdoms.”

This echoes a wave of arguments insisting Greta Thunberg and other teenage activists are not realistic, that their ideas speak of a fantastical, dreamlike society. 

The strikes, however large and impressive, have sown misgivings that they will accomplish anything at all. 

Jordan said, “I have strong doubt these strikes will accomplish anything. No matter how much passion these youth have, passion isn’t enough.”