Emma North, Contributing Writer
Young people in Richmond went on strike Friday to protest a lack of government action on climate change as part of a nationwide effort.
The high school students left school early to rally at Abner Clay Park at 12:30 p.m. and marched to the Capitol 30 minutes later. The advocates urged older generations to take children’s futures into consideration.
“Climate change is the longest-term issue that we’ll have. I think the youth definitely understand that,” said William Spencer, a student at Richmond Community High School. “The older people get it, but they don’t really get it, because they don’t understand that you need to act now.”
Supportive adults from the community also attended. Appomattox Regional Governor’s School student Anna Homer said she joined the strike to stand up for what she believes in.
“[I want to see] more of a focus on preserving what we have rather than putting everything in favor of big business,” Homer said. “I feel like a lot of the policies are so favored toward just making profit, not really protecting things.”
Elijah Wilson was also absent from his Friday classes at ARGS. His main climate change concern is desertification, the process in which drylands become unproductive due to human and natural causes.
“It just removes environment where people could be living, especially in places like the Middle East or Africa,” Wilson said. “It just makes places uninhabitable for anyone.”
The youngest attendant, “Baby Leo,” was pushed in a stroller by his mother, Violeta Sosa. His stroller had a sign attached to it with stuffed animals inside. The sign read, “I’m nine weeks and three days old today! I brought my friends Leon the Lion, Ella the Elephant, and Linda the Llama. They’re my stuffed toys but their real life families and my future matter.”
Richmond students were not the only ones marching on Friday — the Youth Climate Strike is a global movement. The first climate strike was held by Greta Thurnberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl. She started the #FridaysForFuture movement in August of 2018.
Through the movement, she and other students sat outside of Swedish parliament on Fridays until it signed the Paris agreement, according to a video she made. She encouraged others to continue the movement around the globe. Thunberg was nominated for a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
The U.S. strikes demanded the passage of a Green New Deal, a halt in fossil fuel projects, clean water and better climate change education.
March participants also offered solutions like better agricultural practices, more renewable energy usage, closing mines, more emissions standards and the extraction of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
“If we don’t do something right now and systematically change how our government functions, as well as how we consume energy, as well as material goods,” said Spencer, the Richmond Community High student, “what we will see is the gradual collapse and fall of the current civilization we know.”