Chanting “fossil fuels have got to go” and holding signs urging neighbors not to be a “fossil fool,” Encinitas students and local residents marched along Coast Highway 101 Sept. 20 in support of bolder action to address climate change.
“It’s up to us,” said Village Gate Children’s Academy eighth-grader Arianna Trette, speaking in front of her classmates and North County residents who joined the march Friday morning. “We need to hear from all sides of the situation, so then there can be policies and big changes that can happen.”
Village Gate’s middle school students organized the Encinitas march, one of many taking place worldwide as part of a global climate strike in advance of a Sept. 23 United Nations climate action summit. More climate strikes are scheduled for Sept. 27.
“In today’s world, we are suffering from glaciers that are melting, sea level rising, pollution in the ocean, and fossil fuels being burned, and carbon dioxide going into our atmosphere,” Village Gate eighth-grader Kelton Blakely said. “Generation Z, my generation, is going to stop this.”
According to research from the Public Policy Institute of California, 78% of Californians think it’s either very important or somewhat important for the state to be a world leader in fighting climate change; 80% say that global warming is either a very serious threat or a somewhat serious threat.
Climate scientists are overwhelmingly in consensus that humans are adversely affecting the Earth’s climate, but the fossil fuel industry has been refuting those claims for decades. There is also a longstanding divide between Republicans, who have opposed government regulation of the fossil fuel industry with concerns about negative impacts to the economy, and Democrats, including newly elected members of Congress pushing for a “Green New Deal.”
Data from the Pew Research Center shows that a growing number of adults in the U.S. support legislative action to address climate change. The Village Gate students who organized the march said they want to raise awareness among more adults in the local community who can vote for leaders who want to spur more immediate change.
“Even if it’s not much, it’s something,” seventh grader Hotaru Campos said of their efforts, following the hour-long march from C Street to J Street and back.
Cars honked in solidarity, store owners stepped outside to take pictures and hundreds of local residents had joined in by the time the event concluded.
“It really shows how the community can come together,” eighth-grader Ariella Ellis said.