Climate action: Sonoma youth are on the case

Posted on September 25, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun

One sign summed it up, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I CANNOT accept.”

Sonoma’s teens and supporting adults came out to the Plaza for the Global Climate Action School Strike on Friday 9/20 to protest inaction on climate change. The School Strike movement was started by a single teen, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, holding a lonely sign in front of the Swedish Parliament.

The Plaza gathering was modest, yet enthusiastic. Don’t be fooled by the size here, as it is a small node of a global expression of outrage. Large events around the world, and in the US from DC to Juneau, Alaska, organized by children desperate to have a future to express their dreams. They waved their banners and signs along with 350,000 in Australia, 250,000 in New York City and 1.4 million in Berlin.

In the US, thousands of workers left their jobs to join them, parents supporting their kids, sure, but also Unions showing solidarity. Our local kids shared the global stage, as reported in The Guardian, “united across time zones and cultures to take part in the biggest climate protest in history.”

Thank your lucky stars, breathable air, drinkable water, and habitable temperatures, that Sonoma’s youth are loudly on the case. It is through their leadership, now and in the future, that we can generate the political will, and visceral hope, to succeed at survival. As one sign noted at the protest, “Even the Dinosaurs thought they had more time.”

One such climate leader, a middle school girl speaking to the crowd, noted the discouragement of school staff. When leaving for the protest, she reported, they were told they were stupid for doing this and that nothing they would do could make any difference. She despaired at the few students in her school that knew of the climate crisis, or cared to participate. 

Is this how we deal with a crisis of survival of our species on the planet? The indifference shown these youth leaders, speaking truth supported by science, is beyond appalling. Worse, such school staff members are in a position to influence children in their indifference. When was science removed from the curriculum?

I later had a chance to ask the speaker and her classmates to verify and clarify the above incident. All experienced the dismissiveness of school staff. 

In hindsight, we all wish we were quick enough to respond in the moment to such outrages. The current standout for gifted response in the youth climate movement, and founder of the school strike movement, is Greta Thunberg. She has calmly retorted assaults on her passion, credibility, and grasp of science in every testimony to a politician, or media interview. When asked by a Republican Congressman whether she picked up trash during her ocean crossing, she replied, “No, we were going too fast.” The fact that she had traveled on a high tech solar racing boat was lost on the Congressman.

Similarly, I advised our young leaders to quote any paragraph of a Greta Thunberg speech as a response to any adult’s indifference. Further to tell these adults to get their facts straight, remember these kids will be eligible to vote in four years, and any politician with such an attitude will be voted out. To battle such ignorance, clear labeling is a must, so t-shirts stating “Ambassadors for Truth – The Climate Crisis is Real” should offer clear purpose. 

At the beginning of the rally, an attempt to broaden the discussion, to link politics to climate science, was blocked by the crowd, with shouts of “More signs, less politics.” This is also disappointing. Despite our cultural disdain for politics, and the active conjuring of apathy in the process, a fundamental reality exists: Politics is the mechanism to implement the knowledge gained from climate science. So follow the science, all the way to the ballot box. You can be sure our young leaders will.

— Ray Gallian, Sonoma 


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