The climate strike kids, in their own words

30 things striking students want to tell their parents about climate change

On Friday, some 100,000 students and adult allies took to the streets of Manhattan to protest the warming planet as part of the global climate strike headed by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Clustered beneath banners with witty phrases like "you'll die from old age, we'll die from climate change," "the only trees we should be cutting down are Minecraft trees," and "Smash Mouth warned us," students chanted, sang, and TikTok'ed their way through the revolution.

Indeed, for many of the young protesters, the day was more than just a free excused absence from school. When I stopped to ask the students rallying in Foley Square what they wished they could say to their parents, and their parents' generation, about their participation in Friday's strike, the answers ranged from the grimly funny to the profound.

"Our great-great-great grandchildren, or something like that, might not be a thing because of global warming and fossil fuels." — Duilin, 11

"Yesterday I was talking with my mom, and my mom said we're the 'saviors,' I guess, I don't know how to phrase that in a way that doesn't sound weird. But that our generation ... will be the generation to hopefully right all the wrongs that were committed in the past. I kind of joked with my mom that that's a lot of pressure to put on us, to be honest. But if they think that way, then I honestly just want them to be supportive ... We are literally the future, and if we don't solve this climate problem then not only my life but all of our lives are actually affected." — Viola, 16

"I think that people don't realize how serious climate change really is and they think of it as a joke. And some people come out here just to hang out. And that helps, but they're not spreading a message. We're just two people, but all these people came out here today to spread just one tiny message, and I still can't believe people don't realize that [climate change] is a real thing." — Xiao, 12

"At this point, you can't undo what's been done. It's damage control at this point. And I think, we see these things on the news and we do small things because they're easier. Like when the whole plastic straw thing became really popular. Like, metal straw [in a] plastic cup. That's so symbolic of our national attitude toward climate change, like I'm doing this because it's easy and convenient, or nothing at all. But when it comes to real change, that's too hard ... Democracy, the whole idea, to quote Patti Smith, 'people have the power.' That's my motivation for today." — Eva, 16

"We want people to know, just because [climate change] is not going to affect you in the future doesn't mean it's not going to affect ours. It's such an easy fix, and people just need to prioritize people and our planet over money." — Jackson, 16

"[Striking] is for a good cause, it's for the future. It's an excused absence from school. You know, the vibes, man." — John, 14

"I think it's very important that we save the Earth, that we cut down on a lot of waste, because at the end of the day we all live here. If we don't take care of it, then we're not going to be here for that much longer." — Chris, 17

"What we want to know is, are we even going to be here if no one's paying attention, if no one's taking action? Are we even going to have upcoming generations? They need to know if there is action taken, if people do listen to us and take us seriously, then they can accomplish what they set themselves up to do. Hopefully this works out, and [adults] can see that this is one example of how they can make a change in the world." — Itxel, 17

"We came because we have a class called 'Climate Change' and we started to realize how big of an impact climate change has on our planet. We wanted to speak out about it and show that we care about the planet." — Tachmia, 17

"Our situation right now is really dire. It's a big crisis and we can't just let it off the hook for a long time. It's affecting our life now and it's going to increasingly affect it in the future, so I need them to take action with the power that they do have." — Claudia, 13

"I'm lucky enough to have parents who believe and are supportive of this. But for a lot of people the problem is they're denying [climate change], but they're not denying it on claims that they're researching. What I'm asking is that, if you don't believe or if you think this is a hoax or if you think that we shouldn't do anything about it and it will solve itself, do your research. But don't just look at sources that corroborate your own point of view, look at people who disagree with you. It's not one or the other, you have to be careful with the sources you look at — this is the problem with fake news. Humans might go extinct at one point because people are looking at fake news, or believing it, or producing it." — April, 13

"We think that climate change is actually a big problem, so we came out here to tell people that climate change is a real problem." — Wyatt, 11

"I'll start by saying, my parents don't know that I'm doing this right now. I'm going to go home and hang this sign that I have [ed. note: sign says "the world is at stake"] on my bedroom wall and just see how surprised they are that I did this. The reason I'm doing this is because when it comes to an issue like this, where the whole general public has all these strong feelings about the state of the world, and the higher-ups aren't doing enough about it, this is how you solve that problem. This is the first step to take, raising your voice together and making it known that people feel this way about climate change, the state of the environment. So that the people in the positions to solve the problem will know that it's serious. That it's so serious that all of these people will band together in one area and just walk as one." — Adrian, 17

"I think that if we raise enough awareness, people with really big power will be able to recognize that this is such a big issue and they'll be able to change it. With everyone banding together, we can be like, hey, we need to fix this ... This won't impact only us. This will impact future generations, so really now is the time to fight for change." — Jack, 15

"So here's the thing: I was literally having this discussion when I was leaving this morning. And I was like, to my mom, 'oh, when you were younger, you're acting like you didn't do this?' And she was like, 'I didn't.' And I'm like, okay, well back then people weren't that aware of all the issues that are going on ... People have realized, 'oh this is happening, that's happening, that's happening.' So the world's becoming like: 'Oh, crap, this is actually a real thing.' Years ago you didn't know what's going on, and now you do." — Aleha, 14

"We're here because we're a generation with a loud voice who isn't just going to stand and take what they've given us, which is not sustainable. We're here to make a difference, and make people hear us. We're not the same, we're a new generation who will vote them out." — Isabel, 15

"We need policy change and support from our politicians to either get a Green New Deal or something going. For older generations, it's not like we're trying to sound crazy. We just need policies that are helping our environment, not harming it, and holding businesses responsible for what they're doing." — Shealya, 21

"People are like, 'Why are you going to fight now? It's not going to do anything. You should be getting your education instead of skipping school.' But how the climate is now, if we all go extinct, we're not going to have any education. So we need to stick up now before things actually do go under." — Lycianne, 14

"[We're striking so that] we can stop fossil fuels and automobiles, like planes and cars. So that we can stop climate change." — Elia, 10

"[We're out here] because we can. [Our parents] didn't get to do this kind of stuff, let alone they weren't really told any of this, so we have the privilege of knowing everything that goes on in our society and it's just real fun to speak up. Especially because we're really young." — Talia, 13

"We're starting younger than [our parents] ever knew they could, so they aren't used to people standing up like this. We want to show them that kids in our generation can do this now." — Molly, 13

"I just want them to realize it's something that's kind of unethical, and there's no turning point. We can't go back in time and fix what we should have done right. Acknowledge the fact that we have to take action now ... Rather than wait for people that we elect to take action, show people that don't believe that this is really happening, and that we actually can do something about it." — Krystine, 17

"I'm out here today because we're learning about climate change in class and I think it's important that everybody's aware of what they're doing. Because if people don't start acting now, then in a couple years it'll be so bad that even if you act it will be a lot harder to fix it than it is now." — Emmy, 11

"Even just coming here can show how much we care and hopefully —"
"— hopefully the government is going to look at this and know that we care."
"Yeah, and that we can make a difference." — Ella, 17, and Emma, 17

"I just want them to know there's no time left. We have to fight for climate change, and we need to do it now before anything else happens, 'cause we're probably going to die. Just saying! I mean I'm being real honest right here, we're going to die, we need to do something about it, we need to fight. As young people, we have a voice and we need to use our voices. We're really strong as young people, and we can actually change the world, and we have to do it right now." — Janine, 15

"If [our parents] don't make a change, we will. We'll make a future for our kids, and our kid's kids." — Leslie, 13

"We're just trying to spread awareness about how climate change has a really big effect on our lives. The world is slowly dying, and this is the only world that we have, so we have to take care of it." — Alem, 14

"We only have a few more years left if we don't take care of [the planet]. And some people are still really young, so that kind of sucks. That's why we're doing this." — Ella, 14

"We really didn't ask for this. We didn't cause it, we're trying to solve it. One of my motivating factors is, if I ever have children I want them to see nature and beauty. I don't want them to have to do what we're doing right now." — Elena, 15

"Really, this is not about our parents' generation. My mom always says, usually by our parents' generations' age, people have already lived their lives. We haven't lived our lives yet, we haven't gotten our jobs yet, we haven't financially thrived yet, we haven't changed the world yet. So we need a world to actually change. We need a world to actually thrive in, so we can keep on enjoying all the things we need to enjoy. Even the basics, like music. That's what we're here for, to keep our planet alive and to keep it beautiful." — Johann, 14


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