By Board Member Elisabeth Gick
The Climate Strike was an incredible feat of collaboration between not only environmental/climate change groups, but also labor unions, social justice groups, schools, churches, and so many other organizations and parties. Here are the statistics from just the first day. Over the next ten days, the movement grew to include almost 8 million active participants globally.
Over 4 Million Joined The Global Climate Strike On Just September 20th
The strike beautifully illustrated the power of partnership and solidarity, of leaving territorial claims behind for the sake of the common cause: a healthy and safe planet for the seventh generation and beyond. We need to carry this spirit of solidarity forward if we want to have a chance at electing a government that will accept the challenge of climate change; possibly even see it as an opportunity to actually create a better world.
The strike illuminated the young people’s anger over the lack of urgent sweeping climate action and highlighted their well-articulated demands; it also showed the world that the climate movement has grown into a force that cannot be sidelined anymore.
Within the past month, we experienced seven hours of climate debate on CNN, an unprecedented number of recent climate news and reports in major newspapers, Greta Thunberg claiming center stage at innumerable events and then the world wide climate strikes and actions. All these events elevated the climate crisis to a mainstream concern, finally. Our views are not easily dismissed any longer, being a climate denier is now a rather embarrassing position.
However, we cannot sit back and enjoy our accomplishments yet. It is not enough that two out of three Americans SAY they worry about the climate, we have to ACTIVELY engage them. Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, has been widely quoted for her study that it takes 3.5% of the population actively participating in protests to ensure serious political change (the BBC, May 14, 2019). While that doesn’t sound too daunting, it does mean 11,515,000, that’s eleven and a half million, Americans have to engage in active, sustained, noisy, yet non-violent campaigns to end climate change.
As amazing as the climate strike numbers were, they weren’t big enough yet to carry the spirit of solidarity all the way to next year’s elections and then on to 2030.
We need to cultivate the partnerships we just built, plus build new ones. We need to come up with new ways of educating and activating the public like Bob and Kay Parker of 350 Colorado are doing by making Fridays for a Future a weekly feature in their hometown of Salida; like Todd Fernandez of 350NY is doing when he proposes to assemble a formal climate collective based on thorough research published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review on how to create collective impact. Get on Todd’s email list if you want to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, commit to participating in our Action of the Month: the 350 Colorado post-strike hype call, October 15, focussing on ideas and climate action to keep the momentum going.
What ideas do you have? Please let us know!