THUNDER BAY – “There is no Planet B.”
“Science, not silence.”
“You’ll die of old age. I’ll die of climate change.”
Students from around the carried these messages and hundreds more on Friday, taking part in a global climate strike, walking out of classes to demand change from politicians they don’t believe are taking the crisis seriously.
“I learned how bad it really is last year, and ever since then I’ve tried to reduce the amount of waste I use, just to help the wildlife,” said 12-year-old Anastasia Calaiezzi-Kluensch, who carried a sign that read Save the Earth, stop climate change.
Seeing more than 600 people show up to the Red River Road rally was inspiring, she added.
“It means a lot to me because it’s showing that everyone is really getting involved and people do care,” the youngster said.
“And it kind of seems that more people are learning about it too, because a couple of years ago I don’t think this would be happening.”
Julia Cross, 17, a Grade 12 student at Hammarskjold High School, said she’s concerned that if politicians and business leaders don’t take action soon, it will be too late.
“We only have one Earth and without it we don’t have a home, so we need to protest against it and make sure everyone is aware of the problems going on, on our Earth and how to fix them. I think it’s awesome that so many people are getting together and raising awareness for such a big problem,” Cross said.
Olya Wright, 13, arrived from Grand Marais, Minn.
The teen has presented a zero-emissions plan to her community, challenging leaders there to meet the target by 2040.
“This is important to me because it’s threatening people and animals and displacing people and changing our environment. I really enjoy the environment so I want to protect it,” Olya said.
Millions of students from around the world took part in Friday’s climate strikes, including teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, an inspiration to aspiring activist Olya.
“She’s just found a simple way to take action and it’s really making a big difference,” she said.
Kelsey Sanders, a student at Lakehead University, helped organize the Thunder Bay event, and spoke to the crowd from the stage.
“Today is about telling politicians that their partisan issues mean nothing on a dead planet,” she said.
She’s bothered by politicians and voters more worried about their bank balances than they are about the future of the planet and the cost to combat climate change through a move away from fossil fuels and carbon taxes.
“If you’re more worried about the money in your pocket, remember that you can’t eat money. When all the plants are dead, when you can’t get access to food, it doesn’t matter how much money you make. When your house gets destroyed by inclement weather and water is unsafe to drink, I don’t care how much money’s in your pocket. You’re still going to die like the rest of us.”
Alina Cameron’s six-year-old daughter Elizabeth is who convinced her to attend the local climate strike. A scientist herself, she and her children are worried for the future of the planet.
“We believe that science above silence is important and I want my children to have a future and that includes a healthy planet. Nothing else really matters if we don’t have a healthy planet to live on,” Cameron said.
“And my daughter has been paying attention to Greta Thunberg. She likes her message and she wanted to come today, so I pulled her out of school and here we are.”