ROTTERDAM -- Students from around the Capital Region plan to skip out of school Friday as part of a global youth climate strike, calling on lawmakers to prioritize efforts to combat climate change.
Schalmont High School senior Audrea Din set out to organize the Friday rally, scheduled to be held 11 a.m. at West Capitol Park, last week after learning no one else had stepped up to do so.
“When I saw there wasn't an event going on in Albany, I figured I had to do it,” Din said in an interview Tuesday.
Students from Saratoga Springs, Albany, Guilderland, Bethlehem and other area districts quickly reached out to tell Din they planned to join her. Din raised nearly $1,000 in less than two days to support permit and insurance costs for the protest.
Din said the student protesters from schools around the region will demand “drastic legislative change to combat the climate crisis,” citing the recent push among progressive lawmakers in favor of a Green New Deal, a sweeping agenda that seeks to remake the American economy as it transitions off carbon-based energy sources.
Borrowing a page from the youth activist playbook put to wide use last year, when students across the country walked out of school and called for increasing gun restrictions, Din and other students across the country hope a strike from school will focus attention on their demands for immediate action to address climate change.
Today's students are likely to be most affected by the consequences of climate change – impacts that scientists say will be proportionate to the level of action take by leaders today to mitigate against climate change. The less action taken in the short term, the worse the long-term impacts will be, researchers have spelled out in recent reports from United States and United Nations climate scientists.
When asked what she feared most about the potential of growing up in a world that does little or nothing to curtail carbon pollution, Din hardly wanted to consider what that future would look like.
“It's hard to imagine,” she said.
Instead, she called for action along the lines of what's spelled out in the New Green Deal resolution or the state climate and community protection act, which calls for cuts to statewide greenhouse gas pollution and a move to fossil fuel-free economy by 2050.
“Earth is our only home, we only have one,” Din said. “I feel it is so imperative we protect it. The youth: this is the world we will need to grow up in. We have the right to clean air, clean water, clean land.”
Citing wildfires, droughts, massive storms and refugee flows as signs of what's to come, Din emphasized the urgency she and many of her classmates see in what she called a “climate crisis.”
“Many people like to think climate change is a problem we will have to worry about in the far future,” she said. “That's not true. Climate change is affecting us right now.”
Din, who said she wants to major in environmental studies and work on environmental policy, said she knows that some of the legislative proposals are ambitious and potentially costly. But she also said it was important to start taking action on climate change as soon as possible.
“Obviously, this isn't going to happen right off the bat, but it needs to start somewhere,” she said. “If people start to address this issue now, we will be able to prevent so many things from happening.”