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Young People Feel Betrayed by Adults Over the Climate Crisis. Today, They’re Going on Strike.

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For her 16th birthday, Maddy Fernands asked her parents for an unusual gift: to switch the family to wind power. She didn’t want an iPhone, new clothes or — banish the thought — a car. Cars and trucks account for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, and a significant amount of Fernands’s climate anxiety. “Sometimes we’ll be stuck in traffic and I’ll look outside and watch the exhaust coming out of the car in front of me and I’ll freak out,” she told me. “I feel so powerless to stop it.”

Fernands has been struggling with that sense of helplessness since she first became keyed into the accelerating timetable of climate change in seventh grade. “It seemed like the end of the world,” she said. “But the apocalyptic message wasn’t being broadcast. Nobody was taking correct action to put us on a path away from climate catastrophe.” Because her parents and teachers didn’t seem to share her urgency, Fernands decided that she herself would have to sound the alarm over climate.

Over the past year, Fernands, now a sophomore in high school, has connected with other young people around the country and the world who grasp how dire the climate crisis is. And today they’ll be taking to the streets in at least 105 countries. In the U.S., youth will strike in more than 100 cities, taking time off from school to demand radical legislative action to combat climate change and a transition to a 100 percent renewable economy.

As much as it is an effort to make the planet livable in the future, the strike is also, for many young activists, a sanity-saving expression of the grief and anxiety they shoulder about a quickly worsening crisis that older people have been unwilling or unable to fix.


© The Intercept