Since August 2018 a climate change movement known as “Fridays for Future” has grown significantly fast. It all started with the now 16-year old Swedish Greta Thunberg, who learned about the devastating effects of climate change in school. She felt so taken by what she had learned and thought that interventions on a global level need to happen sooner rather then later. Greta started to protest outside of the Swedish parliament every Friday during normal school hours arguing “why study for a future which may not be there.” The goal of her protests was to demand political leaders improve current climate policies for a sustainable future. Greta also argues “why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?”. Like the snowball effect, Greta’s protesting went from her protesting alone to large school “strikes” together with thousands of people across the world every Friday.
(Photo: Michael Campanella/The Guardian)
In mid-March 2019, the largest strike so far took place in more than 125 countries with at least 1.6 million participants, all demanding action against climate change. Recently, on May 24, another large school strike was organized with similar participation rates, as featured in The Washington Post. The group Youth Climate Strike US, is the lead youth climate action organization in the U.S. They are advocating for the New Green Deal, a stop to new construction of fossil fuel infrastructure, evidence-based policymaking in the government, a declaration of national emergency on climate change, comprehensive climate change education in primary schools, improved preservation of public lands and wildlife habitats and clean water actions.
(Photo: Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
The main goal of the school strikes is to urge political leaders globally to comply with the recommendations of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It’s stated in their latest report that in order to prevent and reverse the predicted devastating impacts of climate change on planet earth and human health, global CO2 emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030. While political leaders are responsible for implementing sustainable policies, such as fulfilling the pledges they made in the Paris agreement for 2030, all people can do their part with small lifestyle changes as well. If we don’t act now, we put ourselves and all wildlife at risk for a mass extinction.
The devastating effects of climate change is not limited to melting icecaps and rising sea levels. Climate change has also caused an increased number and intensity of extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornados and rainfall in the U.S. In the 2009 CHEJ publication “In the Eye of the Storm,” the impact of extreme weathers near or at Superfund sites is explored. Superfund sites are already toxic and put human health at risk. With the increased number of storms and flooding, toxins migrate in soil and water and pose a greater risk than originally, making the cleanup processes more difficult and costly too.