By Nic Koski, Columnist
Several Towson University students, including myself, walked out of class this past Friday, Sept. 20, to rally at Freedom Square. We then took the closest light rail down to Baltimore City Hall where we continued our rally alongside thousands of other Baltimore students. Many of these students marched from nearby high schools and middle schools, joined by their teachers, and carried signs reading “We are skipping our lessons to teach you one,” and “The seas are rising and so are we.” This was my first climate strike and it was truly inspiring.
While many of our “leaders” either idly stand by or, like the Trump administration, actively rollback protections for the environment and human lives, the youth of America are truly leading the way toward a livable future. The Baltimore climate strike was only one among countless others spanning across over 150 countries. The strikes began three days before the UN’s climate emergency summit and sought to demand action on our climate crisis and bring an end to the age of fossil fuels.
Despite the overwhelming scientific support for the need to address climate change on a systemic level, I still see people overly focused on lifestyle change over systems change. “Green bloggers” often recommend buying eco-friendly products or taking public transportation more often. However, this focus on lifestyle change is then often taken up by people who couldn’t care less about environmental causes to be turned against environmental activists who don’t model the perfect eco-friendly lifestyle, as a recent Fox News article has done in response to the climate strikes.
Lifestyle change is great when it is within your means. But as many at the strike pointed out, most people can’t switch over to more eco-friendly modes of transportation when our cities have not designed their streets for accessibility and public transportation. One speaker added, “It’s not the fault of the workers in the fossil fuel industries who are just trying to feed their families, it’s the industries themselves.” To this we could add the startling fact that the U.S. spends billions of dollars on fossil fuel subsidies to keep the industry afloat despite consumer action to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
When we have all of these much deeper, interrelated causes to our climate crisis, lifestyle change simply won’t cut it. We need legislators, city-planners, educators, and all of us who have a hand in these systems to make the kind of change that will cease sustaining the fossil fuel industry and reproducing environmental disaster on a global scale. This is what the climate strikes are about.