Ingrid J. Paredes is a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering at New York University. You can find her on Twitter @ingridjoylyn.
Over the last year, youth around the world have gone on strike from school to demand climate action. On September 20, 2019, they have planned what they hope to be the largest global climate strike yet. And they’ve asked adults to join them.
I am leaving lab that day to be there.
I am striking because, to date, world leaders have failed to pass rapid and aggressive climate action. The climate crisis is a difficult problem to solve in a limited amount of time: according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must cut carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 to keep our planet from warming more than 1.5°C. The next eighteen months are crucial for us to meet this goal.
Still, with the science clear, world leaders have not respected the urgency of the situation we are facing. The goal of the 9/20 strike is to exert pressure on world leaders that will gather at the UN Climate Change Summit on the following Monday.
I am striking because I am an engineer that believes in climate action rooted in justice. Science and engineering do not exist in a vacuum. Addressing the climate crisis requires more than implementation of engineering solutions that can bring us clean energy and new, stronger infrastructure. We must implement these solutions in a way that is just. The communities most vulnerable to the climate crisis are the ones who have contributed least to it. We must work with these communities to identify the impact of climate change to inform solutions.
The climate crisis is not a single issue; it is the framework that shapes our lives. To quote Audre Lorde, “There’s no such thing as a single issue struggle because we don’t live in single issue lives.” Immigration is a climate issue. Healthcare is a climate issue. Infrastructure is a climate issue. Our next president must understand this and make address in climate a top priority. We’ll be in the streets until this happens. Our voices are stronger together; as grad students, we showed this in 2017, when our protests defeated a proposed tax bill.
Now, we need everyone to tackle the climate crisis with the scale it requires. Every action counts!
Want to strike in your area? Here’s where you can find more information:
Visit the global climate strike website to RSVP at a strike near you. In many cities, youth have been on strike every Friday. Local chapters of organizations including This Is Zero Hour and Sunrise Movement are also organizing towards the strike. Many universities also have environmental organizations that may be planning events.
Encourage any organizations you are affiliated with to endorse the strike. Here is a template letter for endorsement.
If you are a scientist, organize your lab or workplace to attend. List your lab here for updates about other efforts happening around you.
If you can’t attend the strike, you can still help! Post on social media voicing your support or organize a workplace action during lunch. Spread the word!
[Photo credit to Ingrid J. Paredes.]