Global Climate Strike in NYC
Today Musee joined thousands of protestors who marched from Foley Square to Battery Park to confront the climate disaster which threatens civilization as we know it. The strike was inspired by young Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg who started skipping class on Fridays last year to stand outside the Swedish parliament and demand climate action. Since her exposure on international news outlets, students around the world have joined her in the movement “Fridays for Future”.
The Fridays for Future website states “School children are required to attend school. But with the worsening Climate Destruction this goal of going to school begins to be pointless.” They ask, “Why study for a future, which may not be there? Why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?” Thunberg has urged supporters to make their presence known outside their closest town hall building on Fridays, symbolically standing by her side. Students across the globe have participated to great success.
The strike today was organized as a call to action for folks to disrupt business as usual in anticipation of a UN emergency climate summit. There will be another strike on September 27th as organizers have found that a sustained week of action is most effective. What struck me about what I saw today in New York was the unapologetic, pointed message shared on posters, in chants, and in speeches. This was no “Save the Trees” free for all. It was clear that everyone was aware of the life threatening nature of this crisis. Protestors called out the corporations, institutions, and government officials responsible. They even drew attention to the links between capitalism and climate change as well as environmental racism which are less fashionable aspects of the environmental justice movement.
On stage in Battery Park, young people made fierce speeches recounting the effects of air pollution on their physical health and the specific threats present in their cities. The activists called out their representatives for accepting money from the fossil fuel industry and directly asked them to stop putting their bodies on the line. The attention to broad systemic change coupled with stories from personal experience made the intention of the strike very powerful to me.
As I stood in Battery Park with all those people, whether they were presenting elaborate themed costumes, spreading information at voter registration booths, dancing, eating packed lunches, or just laying in the sun next to their poster they carried through the crowds to make it here, I thought about how this very land, this Lenape land, will be dramatically different within my lifetime according to predicted sea level rise. For example, the coastline surrounding the Battery alone is expected to rise up to 20 inches by 2050. I thought about the massive sea wall project underway in an effort by the city to prevent destruction from regular floods as well as upcoming super storms or hurricanes. I tried to imagine myself coming back to that very park, seeing the altered landscape and listening for the voices I heard today. I tried to imagine the change they would make.
All photographs by Laura Clausen. See more of Laura’s photographs on her website.