Bloomington and IU climate activists are encouraging people to walk out of class and work Friday and join them for a rally emphasizing the need for action on climate change.
The event is part of a larger Global Climate Strike day taking place across the world, said IU sophomore Eliza Dowd, one of the organizers who is associated with the Bloomington chapter of the youth-focused climate change group called the Sunrise Movement.
“We are in a climate emergency, and we need to treat it as such,” Dowd said.
School striking on climate change began when Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, began skipping school on Fridays last year to advocate for action on climate change in front of the Swedish parliament building.
Her actions inspired the Fridays for Future movement as more students across the world joined in, according to the movement’s website. People in some communities have demonstrated once, while other locations list weekly participation.
The Global Climate Strike is intended to be Fridays for Future’s largest single day of action yet, with people in more than 150 countries set to participate.
Bloomington’s day of action is planned to start with the walkout so everyone can attend the 12:30 p.m. rally in Dunn Meadow and march through campus. Demonstrators will then gather at Peoples Park before marching to Bloomington City Hall, where they will present a list of climate demands to Mayor John Hamilton.
The demands include asking the city to declare a climate emergency and expand funding for sustainable housing, food and transit resources, according to a press release from the organizers.
A global week of climate action is planned through Sept. 27.
Dowd said students from the Bloomington Project School, Harmony School and Bloomington High Schools North and South will be joining the local event.
The school strike element is an important part of the movement because it highlights concerns about the Earth’s future, Dowd said. Without a clean and safe environment, students may not be able to eventually use their education.
“There are no jobs on a dead planet,” Dowd said.
Ross Martinie Eiler is another organizer through the Golden Bicycle Extinction Rebellion, which he described as a group of community members focused on what Bloomington can do to take action against climate change.
As a Christian and parent, Martinie Eiler said he feels future generations must be protected. He plans to take his children out of school so they can participate in the demonstration.
Martinie Eiler said many people have taken individual steps to reduce the effects of climate change, such as changing to more energy efficient lightbulbs, but he said he sees this as a problem that is better solved through systemic action.
“If we don’t get this right, if we continue to say that fossil fuel money is more important than protecting the climate for our kids, then we’re going to make a mess of things,” Martinie Eiler said.
Martinie Eiler said local activists are focused on a long-term campaign and will be continuing their work in the future.
“This isn’t the end of the organizing but is a launchpad into the beginning of the organizing,” Martinie Eiler said.