As many as a quarter-million people marched on the streets of New York City Friday for a youth-led climate strike inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Globally, as many as 4 million people took to the streets in hundreds of countries. Democracy Now! was in the streets of New York on Friday speaking with climate strikers from the United States and around the world.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our coverage of Friday’s historic Global Climate Strike, when as many as 4 million people marched around the globe. It was the largest protest ever focused on the climate crisis. Democracy Now! was in the streets of New York Friday speaking to climate strikers.
CLIMATE STRIKERS: Climate change has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho! Climate change has got to go!
ISABELLA: I’m Isabella. I’m 12 years old. And I’m here today because I believe that age doesn’t matter. And, sure, we can’t vote, but we still have a voice here. The Earth is really messed up. We should have fixed it a while ago. And it’s just not fair.
CLIMATE STRIKERS: We are trying! Trump is lying! Stop denying! The Earth is dying!
ISABELLA: I get really worried about our future, because I keep seeing a bunch of, like, posts or things that say, like, “Oh, yeah, by 2030, that the world could be like at its peak, that we can’t do anything anymore.” And I keep thinking, “Why don’t people listen, when things are right in front of their face?”
DAPHNE FRIAS: My name is Daphne Frias. I’m 21 years old. I’m a born-and-raised New Yorker from West Harlem. The reason I’m here today is really because I’m tired. I’m tired of climate inaction. I’m tired of our world leaders ignoring what’s really happening to our Earth, and profiting off of the extinction of our planet, really, prioritizing profit over lives instead of lives over profit.
Being Latina, my Latina community, the Hispanic community, they are disproportionately faced by climate change because of the institutions that are placed in our communities. We have fossil fuel plants. We have garbage waste plants. We have bus depots and countless other infrastructures that pollute our environments. But you don’t see these same infrastructures in affluent communities.
But also, being disabled, people with disabilities are really affected by climate change. You know, we don’t have the privilege to be able to up and leave when a natural disaster occurs. And because natural disasters are getting more unpredictable, we’re becoming prisoners to our habitats, our apartments, our homes, because we can’t predict the damage that these storms will be able to bring.
I’m here to say that we weren’t the ones who started the climate movement. There’s many generations before us who have been fighting for the same change. But we will be the ones to end it, because enough is enough.
CLIMATE STRIKERS: What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!
SÔNIA GUAJAJARA: [translated] I am Sônia Guajajara. I’m one of the executive coordinators of Brazilian Indigenous Peoples’ Articulation. And I’m here today to participate in the climate march, bringing the voices of the indigenous peoples of Brazil to denounce all the destruction of the environment, the destruction of the Amazon, and the legalization of a genocide against indigenous people.
For 519 years, indigenous people in Brazil have been resisting. And we’ve been resisting by fighting against the political and economic powers that, under the name of development and in the name of progress, are authorizing more and more exploitation of our natural resources, exploiting mines, exploiting the rivers, and it’s directly affecting our way of life.
The Amazon is burning at this exact moment. Lots of territories are on fire. We attribute the increase in the fires to the rhetoric of the government of Jair Bolsonaro, that incites attacks, that incites invasions and incites deforestation. The practices of the Bolsonaro government are consolidating this government as the biggest enemy of indigenous people and the environment.
I think we’re in a time of awakening. Lots of people are waking up to the urgent need to fight for the environment. And for that, it’s necessary for people to have political and ecological consciousness, to call out and pressure the governments in their countries in order to adopt sustainable policies, not only destructive ones.
RAMÓN CRUZ: My name is Ramón Cruz. I’m with the Sierra Club. Two years ago exactly in Puerto Rico, we saw the most devastating hurricane that we have seen in many generations, no? And because of that, there were many people displaced. Many people had to move the island. The economy went even further devastated. And all this is a direct also effect of climate change.
So we’re seeing, you know, we were one of the many climate victims or climate refugees that we’re seeing. And we’re starting to see that elsewhere, no? We saw the brothers and sisters from the Bahamas suffering basically as much, if not even more than we did in Puerto Rico, where one year after, there were still people without electricity, there were still people feeling the effects.
TINIKA BRIGHT: My name is Tinika Bright. I just turned 18 years old. And I’m here because climate change is an urgent issue. Scientists say we have up to 2030. And I’m only going to be like 29 then, so it’s my future at stake.
DELPHINE: I’m Delphine, and I’m 9 years old. And I’m out here today to protest climate change. I’m asking them to pick up their trash more, because it’s not just kids who make the mess. It’s a lot of grown-ups, too.
YEB SAÑO: Yes, my name is Yeb Saño. I am from the Philippines. And I am here today because I want to stand in solidarity with all of the young people who are rising up and standing up for the future. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and it’s truly, truly amazing.
The climate crisis is a matter of life and death for Filipinos. And we all know that the story is quite simple and classic: Those who have the least contribution to this problem are those who feel the brunt of its impacts. And that is so unfair. That is so unjust. And in the Philippines, we face massive typhoons, superstorms and massive droughts. And this is a matter of life for us, and it’s affecting real lives, real people, real livelihoods.
And, you know, when we come into the streets like this in my country, when you defend the environment, you can die. You can be killed. And I hope people in America recognize that you have the space to be able to express our views about the future and about the planet, but not every country in the world has that privilege.
ALINA HASSAN: My name’s Alina Hassan. I’m from the Bronx High School of Science. And my sign says ExxonMobil knew about climate change about 50 years ago, and they did nothing about it. They actually paid money so that they could deny it. They spread propaganda against climate change. And we need to hold them accountable.
CLIMATE STRIKERS: Exxon knew! Exxon knew! Exxon knew! We are unstoppable! Another world is possible! We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!
LUCKY TRAN: My name is Lucky Tran. I’m a scientist and science communicator. I’m with March for Science today. And scientists are joining the climate strike today because we’ve had enough. Like, people — we’ve been warning the world about climate change for decades and decades and decades. Politicians have not listened to us. And we need a change, a transformative change, in society right now. And that’s why scientists are here in the thousands. They’re here marching, all around the world, because we’re angry, because we serve the community — we serve frontline communities, we serve our youths — to try to make a better world. And right now researching is not enough. We’re leaving the labs, and we’re demanding action in the streets with everyone here today.
CLIMATE STRIKERS: Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like! Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!
HALIMA ALI ADAN: My name is Halima Ali Adan, and I’m from Somalia. And I work for an organization called Save Somali Women and Children. I think, in the climate crisis, that we can see the strike is all about, is really happening in countries like Somalia. Particularly, there was drought three consecutive years, that we’ve never had rainfalls. And that means that people have been losing animals. And these are the only standard of living that they ever had, so meaning that they’ve lost literally everything. So that means that once they lose everything, then they have to be displaced. And once you’re displaced, it means that you’re forced out of your house. Once these families are forced, of course, it exposes them into risks of being — you know, human rights violations happening.
CLIMATE STRIKERS: We need renewable energy! Plant a tree! Save our bees! We need renewable energy!
KUMI NAIDOO: My name is Kumi Naidoo. I’m the secretary general of Amnesty International. And Amnesty International is in this march because we want to send a message to the world that climate change constitutes a mass death penalty facing all the people on the planet right now. That’s the reality of how we have neglected acting on it. So we are running out of time.
And the significance of this particular day, which is already, we know, the largest number of people have come out on a single day of climate action, is the fact that young people have brought a moral appeal and have pricked the conscience of even the most toughest CEOs of fossil fuel companies. I’m not sure whether it’s going to get through to Trump, because he’s himself a tougher nut to crack. But bottom line is, I feel that we are reaching the tipping point now, where global public opinion is shifting in a direction where it’s going to be irresistible for governments to not act.
So, yes, we are not there yet, but the momentum is building to send the message that nature does not negotiate. We cannot change the science. And all that we have in our world to change now is political will. And to existing political leaders, they need to understand that political will is a renewable resource. So, if they don’t get their act together, they will find themselves out of power, if they’re not willing to listen to the appeals of our children.