On Monday, the Daily Chronicle ran a photo of dozens of Clinton Rosette Middle School students who on the Friday before, participated in a global strike to raise awareness for climate change.
They carried signs saying “What I stand for is what I stand on,” “Human change not climate change,” and “Fight climate change or die frying.”
The photo was shared on the Daily Chronicle Facebook page. There were almost 200 comments. It was a pretty even split between people praising the students’ actions and those who maligned their stance, and it quickly devolved into an exchange of memes and gifs.
Some find it easy to dismiss young people’s views. They typically don’t pay taxes. They may not have the vocabulary to articulate their ideas yet, or the emotional maturity to handle high-pressure situations. But there are plenty of adults with those attributes, too – it doesn’t necessarily make them unintelligent.
Most scientists – 97%, according to NASA – agree that the Earth’s climate is changing because of human activity. While I love a good conspiracy theory as much, if not more, than the next guy, to think that somehow 97% of scientists have formed some sort of cabal to deceive the world is just a Lee Harvey Oswald too far. Science can change – that’s the nature of scientific research and experimentation – but the current consensus is that we’re responsible for making our world worse.
I would love to see a Nobel Prize go to the scientist who comes up with evidence to show the Earth isn’t warming and all the bad things that are supposed to happen won’t, but until that happens climate change is a clear and present danger.
I don’t envy the people growing up today, and not only because of climate change.
This past weekend, my nephew described in great detail what he learned in school recently. In with spelling and math and the Pledge of Allegiance, he learned that, if a strange person comes into the building, they’re supposed to lock and barricade the door. They’ll turn the lights off and huddle in a corner of the room, keeping as quiet as possible. If someone can get through the door and the barricade, they’re supposed to throw their pencils, books, chairs and anything else they can find at them so they won’t be shot.
My nephew is 6.
There are a lot of children doing a lot of great things right now, and they should be encouraged.
Malala Yousafzai won a Nobel Prize for her work helping educate girls in repressive regions, even after the Taliban tried to assassinate her for it. Greta Thunberg recently spoke at the United Nations to encourage action on climate change and spoke directly to world leaders.
Yes, students should learn reading and writing and arithmetic in the classroom, but when they protest and take action, they’re demonstrating they want to do more than live in the world, they want to be part of it.
I didn’t walk out from my job on Friday to carry a sign about something I believed in. I didn’t upset my routine in any way and then burned fossil fuels on my drive home.
So good on the students at Clinton Rosette Middle School that took a few minutes out of their day to stand up for something they believed in. We could all learn something from them.
• Kevin Solari is the managing editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2221, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter