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Students 'strike' to focus attention on climate change

Students 'strike' to focus attention on climate change

Hundreds gather in Albany
Students 'strike' to focus attention on climate change
Organizer Audrea Din, 17, of Altamont and Schalmont High School, speaks during the Albany Youth Climate Strike.
Photographer: Erica Miller

ALBANY — As a couple hundred students from around the region gathered outside the state Capitol on Friday to “strike” for climate action, some of the youngest students on hand staked out their claim on the future of the planet.

With a changing climate predicted to dominate life in the coming decades, students said they feared what will happen to the environment if carbon emissions weren't controlled soon.

“I'm mostly worried about the water, the air and the earth,” said 9-year-old Sadie Hayek, a student at the Albany Free School.

And what does Sadie think her life would be like if the status quo continues?

“It will probably not be as great as it is now,” she said.

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Organized by Schalmont High School senior Audrea Din, the Albany climate strike was part of a global day of action. At hundreds of sites across the word, students skipped out on school to urge action to combat climate change.

Students from Saratoga Springs, Shenendehowa, South Colonie, Burnt Hills and other area districts joined a large contingent of Albany High School students, who had trekked down the street for protest, at West Capitol Park.

Signs and chants encapsulated the student's message of dire concern over the planet's future prospects if the burning of fossil fuels continues unabated.

“I'm sure the dinosaurs thought they had more time too,” read one sign. “It's not big deal: just the future of humanity,” read another sign.

Din organized the strike after last week she noticed no one had set up a protest in the Capital Region. She said dramatic legislative action – along the lines of the ambitious goals spelled out the Green New Deal resolution supported by many Democrats – is needed to curb carbon emissions and transition the economy to one based on renewable. And the time for that action is now, she said.

“The window of opportunity to take action is shrinking as the problem gets bigger,” Din said as she addressed her fellow students Friday. “And our future is at stake.”

The student protesters played the age card as they described concerns about the world they would raise their children in or the world their grandkids would grow up in – if action to combat climate change isn't taken soon.

“We will be the ones raising children who will be facing the most problems,” said Esmee Johns, a Saratoga Springs High School senior.

Like many of the other students, Johns said it was difficult to imagine what the world will be like if leaders don't begin seriously addressing climate change.

“I don't even want to imagine it; I think that's terrifying to think about,” Johns said. “I shouldn't have to think about that as a 17-year-old.”

While Saratoga students didn't have school Friday, they said there was no better use of their day than to join the protest.

“This is probably the most important thing we could be doing with our time,” said Saratoga Springs High School senior Padraig Bond. “This is not a rich or poor issue, this is a human issue.”

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