by Emily McNichols
On March 15th, students around the world will trade their classrooms for the steps of their local legislative buildings to confront legislators on the issue of climate change. Climate change, the change of Earth’s climate caused by human activity, results in an increase of natural disasters. This includes wildfires (such as the ones here devastated California this year), hurricanes in Puerto Rico, and extreme tornadoes in the Midwest. Wildfires in Sweden caused by climate change motivated a frustrated, young adult to start a movement.
This movement is led by Swedish sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg. Thunberg is famous for repeatedly skipping school on Fridays to sit at Riksdag, the legislative building of Sweden, to protest Sweden’s lack of discussion on climate change policy. Thunberg was inspired by student-led school walkouts in the United States calling for stricter gun control, and used the walkout model to call for more policies on climate change.
Despite gaining an international spotlight, the strike is not a top priority for Burlington High School (BHS) students.
“It’s the end of the quarter, it’s a lot to organize and encourage the BHS community to go to,” Isabel Vivanco, a BHS junior, said.
Vivanco supports the strike but points out that most Burlington and Vermont legislators are progressive and are already doing work on climate change. Although there is not an organized strike at BHS, the environmental club, Leader in Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP) , will have a petition for Vermont legislature encouraging them to have stronger policies on climate change. Even though Vivanco is not participating in the strike, she is glad that students around the world are.
“I think [the strike] is important because one, they’re using their voice and two, they’re putting pressure on trying to get something done, and hopefully they can get something done.” Vivanco said.
Misky Noor, another BHS junior, expressed her disapproval of current politics surrounding climate change.
“A lot of politicians are informed but they’re not doing anything about it, even when they have the power to do something and we don’t,” Noor said. To Noor, the “we” means youth.
Even though the youth might not be in power, BHS junior Wyatt Rollins is glad that young people are leading the climate movement.
“It’s being addressed by people who are the last people who can change it and the people who are being affected by it the most,” he said.
Jacqueline Kohler, a chemistry teacher at BHS believes that addressing climate change is crucial in the social landscape today.
“We need to emphasize that climate change isn’t fake news; that it’s real, [and] that it’s going to affect us in the very near future,” she said.
Kohler supports youth activism and says it encourages society to understand issues and make intelligent decisions that will benefit humankind. However, she has concerns about students missing school for the strike.
“I am very conflicted about [the strike] because any time you’re missing school you are missing important content,” she said. “So I do think that if students are going to choose to go on the strike that they need to be in contact with their teachers to set up some time to learn what they miss.”
Vivanco acknowledges that missing school is bad, but reasons that one day of school is small compared to the future which she could be protesting for. Noor agrees.
“[Strikers are] letting the school know that [climate change is] actually serious and we need to be doing this Not just the school, people in general like the community and everyone around the community,” she said.
Rollins admires the people who will strike but expects some students to use the day as an excuse to skip school.
“If they’re going to use it as an excuse to get away from school it takes away the impact of it because you’re just going against the education system,” he said.
Although Vivanco expresses support for the strike, she admits that she was not informed of it.
“I think there can be more awareness about it,” she said.