Featured Article: “Protesting Climate Change, Young People Take to Streets in a Global Strike”
Anxious about their future on a hotter planet and angry at world leaders for failing to arrest the crisis, masses of young people poured into the streets on every continent on Friday for a day of global climate protests. In this lesson, students learn more about these protests, and consider what constitutes success for this movement powered by young people.
Did you participate in the climate change protests on Friday? If not, did you hear about the protests from friends or watch footage on social media or TV? What did you see for yourself — or hear from others — about these protests?
Then, watch the video above and scroll through the photos embedded in the featured article. Respond in writing or discuss with your classmates:
What do you notice? Which images are most interesting or have the most impact and why?
What do you wonder? What questions do you have?
What story do these images tell? Write a catchy headline that captures the main idea of the photos.
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. How many people are said to have participated worldwide in climate change protests on Friday? Does that number in and of itself indicate that the day was a success? Explain, in your own opinion, why or why not?
2. What must happen next, according to event organizers? How can the young people who demonstrated on Friday stay involved in the movement?
3. In what country does the article’s writer say no protests took place? Why is that absence “notable”?
4. What youth movements of the past are mentioned in the article? How, according to people who study protest movements, is the current youth climate movement different from the others? How might its attributes contribute to the movement having, perhaps, more impact than the others?
5. The articles concludes with the following paragraphs:
An early test of the student protests will come on Monday when world leaders assemble at United Nations headquarters to demonstrate what they are willing to do to avert a crisis. Their speeches are unlikely to assuage the youth strikers, but whether the youth protests will peter out or become more confrontational in the coming weeks and months remains to be seen.
“They’re going to call ‘BS,’” Ms. Fisher, the sociologist, said of the protesters. “It’s great for people at the United Nations summit to posture and say they care about this issue, but that’s not enough to stop the climate crisis. These kids are sophisticated enough to recognize that.”
Why do you think the reporter decided to end an article about youth protests with a statement about the United Nations? Do you agree that world leaders’ speeches about climate change are “unlikely to assuage the youth strikers?”
6. What is your prediction? Do you think youth protests about climate change will peter out or become more confrontational in the coming weeks, months and years? Why?
Scroll through the related article “Meet 8 Youth Protest Leaders” and choose one youth leader to learn more about. Then, trace how she or he got involved with the climate movement; explain the environmental crises facing their country; and describe what they hope will be the result of their activism.
Then, put yourself in the shoes of a youth protest leader in your own community. What strategy would you recommend next? How could you get even more people involved to take action on climate change? What specific actions would you recommend young people to take — locally, nationally or globally?