This past week millions of people participated in the global climate strike.
A small fraction of those striking were Florida Tech students, demanding a change to protect and preserve the planet.
Nearly two weeks ago, Florida Tech’s Student Organization for Sustainability Action sent four of its chapter members to Orlando to attend a Friday’s For Future climate strike outside city hall.
“The energy was amazing, and seeing 200 people plus unite for a cause that they are equally, if not more, passionate about than I am was an unforgettable experience,” said Taylor Greene, SOSA president.
The Friday’s For Future is a movement started by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, which so far has activated weekly student strikes in 150 countries.
Participating Orlando organizations and activist groups included IDEAS for Us, the Sunrise Movement Orlando, Fridays For Future USA and Fleet Farming.
These groups encouraged participants to wear green and raise their recyclable homemade signage high in the sky, reflecting the climate action they would like to see in Florida.
Guest speakers included Florida democratic state representative Anna Eskamani as well as others raising awareness for climate change.
“One of the things that resonated the most with me was when I heard Anna Eskamani preach that she didn’t run for office to talk about what was impossible, rather to fight for what is possible,” Greene said. “That was something that really spoke to me and demonstrated that there are people out there trying to do good.”
Tagging along with Greene were fellow SOSA members Jack Weaver and Jeffrey King, both of whom are juniors majoring in ocean engineering and minoring in sustainability.
Both students described attending the strike as “being a part of history and fighting for something our generation believes in.”
“I think some people believe that climate change doesn’t affect us,” Weaver said. “But people are dying as a result all around the world.”
According to Weaver, climate change goes beyond affecting the animals, it has repercussions on a human level that the majority of society should care about.
While Florida Tech’s SOSA chapter and other environmentally conscious activists rallied in Orlando, the scene in New York City was amplified.
World leaders, corporate executives and activists gathered at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
A collaborative effort was made to turn promises into reality in hopes of global warming and rising CO2 emissions.
Topics such as the benefits and use of renewable energies were debated as well as setting a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones,” Thunberg stated as she addressed presidents, prime ministers, and other diplomats. “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”
While there has been tremendous outrage and protests globally with frustration for the destruction of ecosystems, there has also been distress and efforts on a more local note.
For example, the same day as the strike in Orlando, there was also a rally and march held that night at the Eau Gallie Causeway hosted by young Brevard teens.
When she wasn’t marching along side community members with decorated signs covered from head to toe in green attire, Florida Tech senior and marine biology major Erin Casellas was trying to get signatures for the Florida Climate Pledge.
Casellas works as a campus ambassador for CLEO Institute, a Miami based non-profit that strives to educate and promote climate action.
By obtaining signatures Casellas was gaining support from those who want to protect Florida’s biodiversity.
“I think that a lot of people see how beautiful a place like Melbourne is, and we have these amazing ecosystems, but people don’t understand how fragile they are,” said Casellas when asked why some may not believe in climate change.
After a week full of awareness for the environment, the invaluable resources it provides us and the necessary action society needs to take for future generations, SOSA wanted to close their week of insightful environmental mandates and motives to “stand for what we stand on” with a tree planting ceremony on the Crawford Green.
A Florida Gumbo Limbo Tree, also known as the iconic south Florida tree, which is expected to grow up to 60-feet tall, was planted in a ceremonial atmosphere.
“Today, Friday, September 27, 2019, we set the roots for a better future,” Greene said as she introduced her final words of wisdom.
Perhaps the most simple and powerful statement came from a sustainability professor and faculty advisor for SOSA, Ken Lindeman left students with this lasting remark: “You got to come back and look at this tree in 10 years, this thing is going to be epic.”