Long Beach teens and their supporters gathered at Kennedy Plaza on Black Friday to take part in a global climate strike, which aims to bring awareness to environmental issues.
The students were among millions of people all over the world that took part in a climate strike, just days prior to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP25, in Spain on Dec. 2.
Long Beach High School students Maya Arengo, Jillian Lerner and Joseph O’Brien, who led the rally on Nov. 29, are all members of the school’s Hope Club, a club that supports action on climate change. They answered questions from the crowd, spoke about environmental issues and presented ways to protect the environment through recycling, the use of public transportation and stopping the consumption of red meat.
“Climate change is the most important issue of our time,” Arengo said. “Especially my generation, our futures are at stake and no one in government is doing anything about it, so I’m joining all the people around the world who are striking for climate.”
The strikes are inspired by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who rose to prominence by skipping school to protest outside of a Swedish Parliament and asking government officials to take stronger action on global warming. Thunberg went on to start “Friday’s for Future” by continuing to protest on Fridays.
Lerner said she and Arengo organized a walkout on Sept. 27, where more than 60 students walked out of school in protest of climate change. She added that it’s important to consider climate change on a barrier island such as Long Beach. She mentioned that she would like to see more renewable sources of energy and a ban on plastic materials. Long Beach enacted a 5-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags in 2017, and was the first municipality in Nassau County to pass a law in April prohibiting the release of latex, Mylar and plastic balloons to protect the environment and wildlife.
Amanda Moore, a co-chair of the Surfrider Foundation Central Long Island Chapter and an environmental activist, attended the protest with about 20 other people. She said that it was exciting to see students take the initiative to raise awareness on climate issues.
“It’s such a positive thing to see this generation engaged in activism and knowing that they have a voice,” Moore said. “That is very inspiring to us and I think it means that there is a lot of hope. Adults are going to have no choice, but to listen to them, the louder and stronger they get.”