UMKC’s climate change rally welcomed just under 200 people Friday for an engaging outreach to the government regarding climate change passivity.
The campus rally coincided with over 2,000 strikes around the world in over 100 countries. Sixteen-year-old climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg inspired the global strikes and youth across the globe to be environmentally active after she skipped school every Friday to sit-in outside Swedish Parliament, protesting its climate change inaction. The movement is now referred to as Fridays for Future.
“We wanted to make this a community event,” said co-coordinator Emily Larner. “Greta Thunberg [is] only 16 years old. This is her strike, so we want to make sure that we can get the youth involved. And seeing youth here right now is just absolutely heartwarming.”
Leaders from the hosting student organizations on campus took turns speaking to the crowd, encouraging not only the attendees, but America as a whole, to be persistent in advocating for government action.
Co-coordinator Dawson Sims prompted members of the crowd to take out their phones and text ‘CLIMATE’ to 383-83 during his speech. Doing so resulted in an automated reply from Youth Climate Strike with encouragement to call local officials and demand climate change action.
Fellow co-coordinator Shelby Dennis said her goal was to show government officials they mean business.
“If this many people can gather here today, even just 100 people, that’s going to put pressure on them,” said Dennis.
The Climate Council of Greater Kansas City, Heartland Conservation Alliance, Sierra Club, Extinction Rebellion and Project Drawdown were among the organizations that appeared in support of the movement, each with their own booth set up amidst the crowd. The booths offered petitions for future change and insistence on changing government policy.
“I realized that the smaller things you can do, like picking up trash, led me to question but also understand that people don’t speak for the Earth, and that it cannot speak for itself,” said co-coordinator Celesteal Clark.
Students can stay engaged with the movement by following sponsors of the rally on social media for further information. Sponsors include UMKC’s Women in Science, Student Environmental Coalition, Society of Physics Students, Geology Club, Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists and Fossil Free UMKC.