By Ben Westcott
On Friday, Sept. 20, adults are being called on to join schoolchildren who have been skipping class on Fridays to protest a lack of action to stop climate change.
In the Adirondacks, there are two locations where climate strikes are planned as part of this worldwide effort known as the Global Climate Strike. One will take place 12:30-2 p.m. in Saranac Lake’s Riverside Park. The other climate strike location is at the SUNY Adirondack Student Center in Queensbury, where activities will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At the Saranac Lake location, participants will include high schoolers from Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Lake Placid and Keene High Schools, as well as college students from Paul Smith’s and North Country Community College. The alternate location for the strike in the event of bad weather is the basement of Harrietstown Town Hall, 39 Main St., Saranac Lake. Starting at 1 p.m., a small group of speakers will address the climate strikers. Among them is Leena Keal, a junior at Saranac High School, who last spring organized a walkout at her school to protest climate change. Schuyler Cranker, a North Country Community College Student, will also say a few words. Other speakers include Natalie Thill, Director of the Adirondack Center for Writing, and Curt Stager, a professor of natural sciences at Paul Smith’s College and author of several books including Our Future Earth, Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes, and Field Notes from the Northern Forest.
On Monday, the Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees passed a resolution supporting the climate strike event.
At the SUNY Adirondack campus, National Grid, partnering with the non-profit Green Energy Consumers Alliance and Whiteman Chevy, will be bring two electric cars to campus for test driving, a Chevy Bolt and a Chevy Volt. Licensed drivers who fill out the necessary forms and meet insurance requirements can drive the cars as they become available. Representatives will be on hand to explain various rebates and discounts available to electric car owners.
Representatives from local environmental organizations such as Transitions, Citizens Action, New York Renews, North Country Climate, and Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline will have information tables in the student center.
Greta Thunberg’s Ted Talk will be screened in the cafeteria. Thunberg is the founder of the #FridaysForFuture movement that inspired the upcoming Global Climate Strike. Additionally, Tony Krivitski, a founding member of the Warren County Safe and Quality Bicycling Organization, will give a short talk on the climate crisis, and Dr. Lale Davidson will talk about New York State’s new Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which passed in June.
Along with these informational forums, Chartwells will showcase a sustainable food table in their teaching kitchen.
Locally and across this country, people will use the upcoming climate strike as a platform to promote limiting the use of fossil fuels, protecting and restoring biodiversity, and ending de-forestation.
In August 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg sat in front of the Swedish Parliament building every school day for three weeks, protesting the lack of action taken to confront the climate crisis facing our planet. She posted her protest on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, and her efforts were soon sparking conversations around the world.
In September of the same year, Thunberg shifted her approach, this time skipping school to strike on Fridays rather than every day of the week. Soon, the ‘FridaysForFuture’ hashtag was born. In response, students from around the world began to skip school to protest outside of their local parliaments and city halls, chronicling their actions on social media under ‘#FridaysForFuture.’
Now, environmental activists hope to motivate adults to leave their places of work on the last day of the work week and join in local demonstrations, showing solidarity with the legions of children around the world who have already designated Friday as their preferred day of protest.
The Global Climate Strike is scheduled not only for September 20, but September 27 as well. School groups, unions, and organizations in more than 150 countries are planning local mobilizations on these days.