OGDEN — On the steps of the Ogden Municipal Building Friday, 24 students from DaVinci Academy, Northridge High School and Weber State University called on community leaders and the public to act to combat climate change.
The student demonstration was part of a global youth climate strike, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who has been missing school every Friday since August 2018 to demonstrate outside the Swedish Parliament, calling for leaders to take more radical action to reduce emissions and limit climate change.
Thunberg’s protests have prompted students to organize similar events in countries around the world, culminating in this coordinated global event.
Rachel Love and Grace Johnston, co-presidents of DaVinci Academy’s conservation club and organizers of the Ogden strike, share Thunberg’s concerns — and her determination.
“Worldwide, students are striking to speak up about our future and stop the normalization of climate change,” Love said in a speech at the rally. “We are part of a historic movement that quite literally is fighting to save our world.”
Love and other speakers emphasized the limited time the world has to take action on climate change — 12 years, according to a report released in October 2018 by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report has become a rallying point for students internationally.
Love praised Ogden City’s actions to address climate change, including its recent creation of a sustainability committee and its consideration of an ordinance that would make the city idle free — an effort that she and Johnston have spearheaded.
“But we can do more,” Love said. “As a city, we need to move away from fossil fuels and commit to becoming 100 percent renewable energy. We need fuel efficient city vehicles, better sustainability education and more aggressive policy regarding pollution and climate-change contributors.”
Some students across the country and world will face school discipline as a result of missing school to demonstrate, but that’s not the case in northern Utah.
Students from DaVinci and Northridge reported receiving support from their administrators when they spoke with them about missing school for the strike — as long as they made sure that the absences were excused.
Another challenge for the Ogden group was that Friday was the last day of the term for many local schools, so some students who wanted to participate were unable to because they were wrapping up projects and exams.
“DaVinci is a wonderful platform — the faculty is so supportive of the kids,” said Mike McBride, stepfather of Rachel Love and manager of marketing and communications for Ogden City. “They really allow them to get into the community and voice their concerns.”
Students across the U.S. also have the support of the scientific community. More than 300 climate scientists have signed an open letter in support of the student strike.
“Students’ demands for bold, urgent action are fully supported by the best available science,” the letter says. “They need our support, but more than that, they need all of us to act. Their future depends on it; and so does ours.”
“There’s no use in getting an education if we don’t have a future,” Love said at the rally. “The fight for climate change doesn’t just end at this rally or any of the rallies. Continue this fight by joining organizations like conversation clubs at your school or organizations like the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Sierra Club or even starting your own organization.”
“I would love to see more clubs locally come together and join forces,” Johnston said.