Caroline Heege will not be sitting in her eighth-grade classroom at Seattle's Salmon Bay K-8 school on Friday morning.
She will be with hundreds of her peers at the Seattle Climate Strike, demanding profound action on climate change appropriate to the scale of the crisis: environmental justice, respect for indigenous land, a Green New Deal, protection of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture.
As Caroline says, “I want politicians to know that kids care, and we see everything they do. We see the corruption, but we also see a solution, and we will never stop pushing that solution because this is a matter of life and death.”
Every Friday for the past year, young people in Seattle and across the world have been striking for what they say is their right to a healthy future. #FridaysForFuture was started by then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, who last year began walking out of school every Friday and protesting outside the Swedish parliament building to demand action. Her actions struck a global nerve, and she is now joined in a weekly strike by hundreds of thousands of students around the world.
“It is crucial that this movement is youth-led because we are the ones affected most by this crisis, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need adult support," Caroline says. "Adults need to stop making excuses for not acting.”
This week, young people are calling on adults to join them for a Global Climate Strike.
For Megan Slade, an adult member of the leadership team at Climate Action Families, working for climate justice is a critical part of fulfilling the promise she makes as a parent: to protect her kids, and to do everything she can to make their world healthier.
“Young people have the moral authority here, and we have to follow their leadership in creating the world that they will live in," Slade says. "But it is important to me that they don’t have to hold all responsibility for this crisis; they need to see the adults around them protecting them.”
The strike in Seattle is one of more than 3,500 strikes planned, spanning 127 countries and six continents.
Adults appear to be answering the call: 65 trade unions and more than 600 companies have pledged to strike. In Seattle, large groups from both Amazon and Microsoft are striking, marking the first time that Amazon employees have walked out from its Seattle headquarters.
It is expected to be the largest day of climate action in history. Activists see events like this strike as a crucial opportunity to bring people into the environmental justice movement en masse and build momentum for future actions, as well as to signal to the entire world that the culture has shifted, and that people will not stand for inaction on climate change.
The Seattle event will begin at 9 a.m. in Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill with a climate-justice festival running until noon. It will include workshops, music, games, sign-making and more. Climate Action Families will have changing and nursing stations, as well as a panel of climate scientists to answer kids’ questions about climate change.
At 12:30 p.m., participants will march from Cal Anderson to Seattle City Hall (Link light rail is suggested for those who don't wish to, or are unable to walk). At City Hall, the youth-led march will be joined by other marches from across Seattle. There will be a rally with speakers and performances until 3 p.m.
Caroline’s ask of Seattle families? “Join us.”