Global Climate Strike: the largest climate demonstration in world history

More than 7.5 million people have come together in the historic social movement that is now known as the largest climate demonstration in history.

In a demand for world leaders to take immediate action regarding the climate crisis, 185 countries are raising their voices to protect what unites us all – our planet.

As greenhouse gas levels rise, evidence of climate change becomes more apparent, as does the alarming rate at which it occurs. If immediate action is not taken to accelerate decarbonization in the next decade, both humankind and all life on Earth face dire consequences. 

A massive human, animal, and biological extinction event is predicted to unfold within the next 30-50 years, while some scientists warn that the sixth mass extinction event is already underway, according to a team led by scientist Gerardo Ceballos.

Greenhouse gases are natural and part of essential processes for life on Earth. They absorb and emit radiant energy and without them, the average surface temperature of the Earth would be about 33 degree Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than it is now. However, industrialization, deforestation, and animal agriculture have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide to dangerous levels – from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years.

The cataclysmic tipping point of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing closer, and concentrations are still rising rapidly. Corporate greed centered on short-term profitability with little regard for the environment has been pinpointed as the source of 71% of all carbon emissions, according to a 2017 report by The Carbon Majors Database. The burning of fossil fuels is currently the largest contributor, with animal agriculture and its associated processes a close second, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Worldwide demonstrations seeking action to combat these processes began Sept. 20, just three days before the landmark Climate Action Summit.

At the forefront is 16-year-old student Greta Thunberg, who inspired the youth movement against climate change. Thunberg gained fame for her three-week sit-in outside Swedish Parliament, urging stronger actions be taken for the environment. 

What started as a solo effort has drawn millions together and Thunberg asks the question, “Why study for a future that may not be there?”

The 2019 Climate Action Summit was held Sept. 23, and the report currently states, “If we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius and even, as asked by the latest science, to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

Since then, 59 countries have expressed intention to revamp their climate plans by the end of next year. Some countries, such as Germany, have pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

In addition, a coalition of 19 companies pledged to scale up regenerative agricultural practices, boost biodiversity, and eliminate deforestation while focusing on restoration and protection of natural ecosystems.

Unity to save our home planet demonstrates something even deeper than fighting for climate change – it shows the striking and beautiful ability of humankind to stand in solidarity for change.

In the words of Thunberg, “We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable.”