On 15 March this year, 1.5 million people—young students in particular—took to the streets around the world to protest for climate justice, as part of the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement. Since last summer, when 16-year-old Swedish high-school student Greta Thunberg started “skipping” class each Friday to protest her government’s inadequate action to address climate change, FFF has grown into a global movement. FFF brings together young students (and many others) who are worried about their future and are fed up with global leaders’ relative lack of action to curtail pollution and environmental destruction.
Over 1,500 climate strikes were organized around the world on 15 March 2019, with over 200 planned in Germany alone. Here in Munich, 8,000 people braved the cold rain to join in the global movement. Several members of the Rachel Carson Center community joined students at Odeonzplatz and marched through the city streets to the Theresienwiese. The message was clear: climate change affects us all, no matter our age. As the crowd made its way towards the Theresienwiese, students chanted, “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now!” Signs filled the air, sporting messages such as “There is No Planet B” and “You are Failing Us.”
The whole event was electrifying, and the fact that students led the charge was especially significant. A new generation is growing up in a highly mediatized time. The 24-hour news cycle reigns supreme, constantly bringing forth news about natural disasters and the seemingly inevitable crash-course the planet is heading toward if real and concerted action is not taken now. Critics of FFF have openly stated that skipping school will not solve anything, but students have responded by asking why they should study if governments are not willing to listen to educated people. For now, students are still not satisfied, and the movement will almost certainly continue to hold weekly protests outside of government institutions. One thing is certain—FFF has managed to get people talking about climate action, both young and old.