On Friday Sept. 20, young people and adults worldwide will be engaging in a climate strike to promote awareness of the impacts of climate change and enact concrete change to environmental policies. As of today, more than 6,000 people in 150 countries have pledged to organize events during the Global Climate Strike and the Week of Action (Sept. 20-27) following it. Students from both Wellesley High School and Wellesley College will be rallying together in a local strike at Wellesley Town Hall.
One of the largest climate strike movements was during Nov. 2018. Led by Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist who began her work in 2018, more than 17,000 students in 24 countries participated in weekly school strikes. The Sept. 20 Climate Strike will be momentous as it is the first time adults are proactive members of a youth-led climate movement, ensuring that the fight against climate change is an intergenerational effort. Over 30 diverse youth coalitions, adult coalitions and strike sponsors will be leading the strike. Despite representing different organizations, their unity is prevalent in their demands, which includes the passage of the Green New Deal, respect for Indigenous lands and sovereignty, environmental justice and protection of biodiversity.
At Wellesley College, the student organizations EnAct and the Wellesley College Democrats will be participating in the strike. EnAct, or Environmental Action, is an organization that engages students in volunteering, raising awareness, protesting and engaging with partnerships to counteract environmental issues.
“With Wellesley’s mission being to educate future generations, choosing not to participate in events such as the climate strike is one of the many ways that will inhibit one’s education because if we don’t act now, it’ll be even harder to gain an education in the long run,” stated Jess Ostfeld ’20, a member of EnAct.
Students in the town of Wellesley have experienced the results of climate change personally. Some have even founded projects of their own to try to counteract it. Vaani Kapoor, for example, is a high school student who is working to decrease plastic contamination of people’s living spaces.
“I started Project Plastic, an organization that will have plastic pickups every month, because when I visited India with my family, we noticed how people were living, surrounded by plastic,” Kapoor said. “I really wanted to speak up about [climate change] and have more people in America be more aware about it, especially politicians, because they can make a greater change globally than I can locally.”
Faculty members at Wellesley College have noticed our impact on the environment. On Jan. 30, 2019, an ongoing program, E2040, was launched. E2040 plans to have Wellesley College trustees, faculty, and students collaborate on a Master Energy Plan that will reduce the College’s electrical and heat consumption and transition to renewable technologies in the future. Some of the program’s aspirations include a commitment to carbon neutrality, assessment of the costs and benefits of various pathways with regard to financial commitments and campus needs, and systems designed to optimize usage of the College’s capital resources.
“The college is currently making major decisions with respect to energy and infrastructure – these decisions will have far-reaching consequences for our environmental impact,” stated Professor Jay Turner of the environmental studies department, who has been a long-term advocate of sustainability on campus. “What has defined climate activism in the past few years has been the role of younger activists, one result being the climate strike. To have Wellesley participate in the climate strike makes it one part of the larger movement.”
Activists involved in the Climate Strike Movement view the Earth’s climate crisis as a threat to our world and futures. To combat the effects of climate change, every state participating in the strike will be meeting at various cities to march with signs that illustrate the importance of their cause. Other events such as environmental awareness rallies, farmers’ markets promoting the reduction of our carbon footprint and climate change action fairs are hosted during the Week of Action.
To find out more information about Wellesley’s local strike, visit the Anderson Forum on Sept. 18 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.