Get Ready for a Serious Wave of Climate Activism as Students Take to the Streets

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Students striking in Belgium

Between the Youth Strike 4 Climate and the Extinction Rebellion, we are in for some serious disruption.

As Alice Cooper noted, "Well we got no choice" and this Friday in the UK, school's out as thousands of students take part in climate protests. It's all inspired by Greta Thurnberg's solo strike, and as grown into a movement. Jake Woodier of the UK Youth Climate Coalition tells the Guardian:

The images of what Greta did and then the huge strikes by schoolchildren in other countries have been widely shared by young people on social media and have really inspired people...Young people see what is happening – especially since the IPCC report last year, which spelled out that we only have 12 years left to avoid catastrophic climate change ... they realise that politicians are nowhere near where they need to be on this and want to do something to change that.
14-year-old Zoe Bonnett is organizing the strike in Bristol, and tells the Guardian:
People seem to think this is an issue that can be solved another time, but there is no other time,” she said. “I know this is a drastic action, this is quite a big step that I am taking, but I do feel strongly that we have to solve it now ... I have to do something.
Students striking in Germany

© Students striking in Germany/ JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

The movement is growing all over Europe, where 70,000 students in 270 towns and cities have been striking. According to Buzzfeed, the movement is being driven almost exclusively by teenage girls and young women, many of whom are rejecting the role of men who have been running the environmental movements in the past.

Nike Mahlhaus, a 25-year-old activist with the German environmental group Ende Gelände (Land’s End), said her organization had battled for years to get women’s voices into the environmental discussion. It made a deliberate decision to make women spokespeople because media outlets constantly gravitated toward male activists. So often online, she said, she finds herself facing off online with older men whose views get accepted as common sense while she has to defend herself from attacks of being radical or unhinged.

It kind of sounds like the treatment given to a certain American Congressperson and her Green New Deal.

©. Students striking in Australia/ Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

© Students striking in Australia/ Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

In Australia, the Resources Minister is telling students to go to class and study mining and science.“These are the type of things that excite young children and we should be great at it as a nation,” he said on radio. “The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.” This did not go over well. In Belgium, the environment minister had to resign after suggesting that "unknown groups" were behind the movement. She will not be the last who is out of touch with what is happening here.

Greta on strike in Katowice, Poland

© Greta on strike in Katowice, Poland/ ABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

The young woman who inspired the movement, Greta Thunberg herself is under attack by climate denying think tanks and media outlets, but she responded on Facebook: "Many people love to spread rumours saying that I have people 'behind me' or that I'm being 'paid' or 'used' to do what I’m doing. But there is no one 'behind' me except for myself."

Student protesting in Switzerland

© Student protesting in Switzerland/ FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Youth Strike 4 Climate is just one part of a larger wave of climate activism that is happening across Europe, and that will soon spread to North America; older activists are joining the Extinction Rebellion, which is forming chapters all over the continent. You will be hearing more about this in TreeHugger, and just about everywhere else, in the very near future.

Protesters in Washington, 1967

© Protesters in Washington, 1967/ Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Sami asked recently: Are citizens finally mobilizing on climate change? The answer appears to be a definitive yes. It's likely that we are about to see a wave of climate activism that's bigger than the Occupy movement, perhaps approaching the scale of the anti-war movements of the sixties, involving every generation. It is as big a battle, it will be as disruptive and divisive, and they are just getting started.