Local and Green columnist Darcy Dumont: Why we strike for the climate

  • Amherst Regional High School students lead a lunchtime walkout to a rally on the Amherst Common as part of the global Fridays For Future movement to protest lack of action on climate change on Friday, March 15. gazette file photo

  • Columnist Darcy Dumont. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

“Business as usual is doing us in.” That’s what author and environmentalist Bill McKibben said in his recent article, “This Climate Strike is Part of the Disruption We Need.”

In the last year, we saw the Greenland glacier completely disappear.

We saw the rainforests in South America and Africa burn at unprecedented rates.

We saw more ferocious and damaging storms and floods.

We saw extreme drought around the world.

We saw cities preparing to disappear under the rising sea.

We saw the hottest temperatures ever.

We saw President Trump and the U.S. Congress negating multiple hard won and revered climate policies.

And we heard from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change that we need to act to reduce emissions dramatically within 10 years or face dire consequences.

Yet we saw many decision-makers, and most adults in general, complacently proceeding with business as usual.

Enter the youth with a plan to disrupt that business as usual model. Earlier this year, Greta Thunberg and 46 other youth activists issued a call to everyone around the globe to join them in a massive climate strike on Sept. 20. People all over the world are responding and the strike promises to be the world’s largest ever climate mobilization, a powerful moment in history!

The timing of the strike is meant to influence the U.N. Youth Climate Summit on Sept. 21 and the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23 in New York City. The Climate Walkout on the 20th will kickoff a week of mass, escalated actions between Sept 20-27.

If you have never attended such an event, now is the time to step up and be a part of history. Together, parents, workers and all concerned people will walk out of our schools, workplaces and homes to join young people in the streets to demand transformational action to avoid climate breakdown and an end to the age of fossil fuels.

On Sept. 20, the youth will be leading.

In August 2018, Thunberg, then in ninth grade in Sweden, started striking from school every Friday to draw attention to the Swedish government’s failures on climate. Those strikes led to strikes all over the world.

On March 15, 2019, the school strikers were responsible for the largest ever mobilization on climate — an estimated 1.4 million pupils participated in events in over 2,000 cities worldwide, including here in Amherst.

Our Amherst youth have done amazing climate advocacy in the last year. Not only did they lead a very successful school walkout in March, but they have taken the lead in forming Sunrise Movement “Hubs” in both Amherst and Northampton, organizing town halls on the Green New Deal, organizing watch parties for Democratic candidates, leading the successful campaign to get the Massachusetts Democratic Committee to request a national candidate debate on climate change, demanding bold climate goals for the town of Amherst, and co-sponsoring a resolution in Northampton supporting a national Green New Deal.

Below are some of the opportunities for action to support the climate strike during the week of Sept. 20-27.

The youth are asking us to prioritize joining the action in Boston on Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Boston City Hall Plaza. (Amherst and Northampton students will be taking buses to Boston.) You can sign up to take a bus here or on the ClimateActionNowMA.org website.

You can also join an action in Northampton on Sept. 20, starting at 4:30 p.m. at Sheldon Field, and marching to a rally in front of City Hall.

Join the Extinction Rebellion Funeral for the Future at UMass on Sept. 27 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, see facebook.com/events/490075595145443/.

See the full array of Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion events on both Sept. 20 and 27 at climateactionnowma.org.

Also on Sept. 20, we need every last person to join.

As McKibben said, “it can’t be just young people. It needs to be all of us — especially, perhaps, those of us who have been placidly operating on a business-as-usual basis for most of our lives, who have rarely faced truly serious disruptions in our careers and our plans. Our job is precisely to disrupt business as usual. When the planet leaves its comfort zone, we need to do the same. See you on the streets on Sept. 20!”

Darcy DuMont is on the Steering Committee of Climate Action Now MA, is an Amherst Town Councilor representing District 5 and the lead sponsor of the legislation to establish an Amherst Energy and Climate Action Committee. (Councilor Evan Ross co-authored the legislation.) Views expressed are hers and not those of the Town Council.