Juneau high school students hope policy changes faster than the climate does.
About 100 students — many of them excused from class — walked out of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Friday morning and made their way to the Alaska State Capitol to champion the cause of prioritizing a fight against climate change.
“We’re here to raise awareness about the dire condition of our environment and to put pressure on leaders everywhere, including in this building behind us,” said Katie McKenna, event co-organizer and a JDHS junior.
The walkout was part of a global wave of Youth Climate Strikes inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist and teen who has been on a school strike every Friday for the past 37 weeks.
“Today, we join Greta and students from every corner of the globe to let the world know that we are fed up of carrying the burden that generations before us have created,” McKenna said.
Griffin Plush, a senior at University of Alaska Southeast, and Linnea Lentfer, a JDHS sophomore, also spoke during a short rally on the capitol’s steps.
“Here in Alaska we know climate change is not some abstract concept,” Plush said.
He, McKenna and Lentfer said the effects of climate change are particularly evident in Southeast Alaska and cited receding glaciers and ocean acidification as examples.
Lentfer said it was important for these public conversations to be taking place, and strongly advocated for moving the state economy away from dependence on fossil fuels.
The climate activists also said it was entirely appropriate for young people to lead climate change discussions and wade into politics despite many being younger than voting age. They encouraged interested and engaged teens to become involved with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action.
McKenna said it is young people who are willing to reach out and have an openness to new ideas, and her fellow young activists said it is the young who will have to live in the world shaped by current policy.
“Youth are exactly who should care about politics,” Lentfer said.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.