The Climate Initiative at GRHS

Jan Bobrowski, Staff Writer

Besides a supposedly convenient reason to have skipped out on a few minutes of class on Friday, September 20th, the so-called “Climate Strike,” or walk out, actually had more of a reason behind it. On that Friday, at about 11 am, the student body of Glen Ridge High School walked out of the school in tandem, filling the sidewalk of Ridgewood Avenue with hundreds of angry climate activists. Some held signs, others incited chants, and the rest stood there in demonstration, all while cars drove by, some honking to express their support for the cause. One of the most involved students in the event was Matt Whitney, who was seen running up and down the lawn of Glen Ridge High School in a Glen Ridge Soccer jersey, encouraging students to be vocal throughout the course of the demonstration. Where did the inspiration for such an event come from, and why were students like Matt willing to take such a big part in the demonstration?

This idea was pioneered by a young Swedish student by the name of Greta Thunberg, who in 2018, at the age of 15, began to skip school on Fridays to demonstrate outside of the Swedish parliament, asking for action on climate change. Soon after, more students joined her and organized a movement called “Fridays for the Future.” She addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2018, prompting coordinated school-strikes across the world every week, including the one in Glen Ridge on Friday, September 20th, in an effort to raise awareness. Her actions and speaking have provided hope for those believing it’s too late to turn around the state of the environment. 

When asked how he feels about the current initiatives to help fix climate change, Matt said, “It’s been a depressing half decade but 2019 has really picked up the pace. In today’s news, there’s the UN Climate Action Summit and Greta Thunberg, so it seems that things are starting to happen now”. 

The threats of climate change include the results of a multiple degree rise in global temperatures in the next few years. These results would be a rise in sea-level worldwide, magnifying the drastic effects of already dangerous tycoons, hurricanes, tropical storms, and extensive flooding. Some parts of the United States are under threat of essentially going underwater, such as Miami. “Climate change is especially important for highschoolers,” Matt said, “the future is only relevant to older generations to a certain point as they will only feel the beginning effects of climate change, but those currently in school will have to grow up with the consequences”. This seems to be especially true in the current political world, where it is almost regular for politicians to blow off climate change as a threat in order to receive campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry. 

When asked why he thinks its good for students to get involved in political issues such as this one, Matt responded, “It develops a political consciousness that I feel is necessary in this day and age. It creates an awareness of domestic and international issues that is missed out on in school”. In response to the question if the climate strike spurred a conversation regarding climate at GRHS, Matt said, “I believe a conversation was started, and if a conversation wasn’t started at least they were reminded. It’s important that everyone is reminded and considers climate change and its effect in their decision making”. Climate change is happening and it’s happening now, and the walk out was a good reminder of the action that needs to be taken soon.