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 The international protest #FridaysForFuture began with a teen in Sweden and has since gone viral in more than 100 countries, according to the Michigan Climate Action Network.

The international protest #FridaysForFuture began with a teen in Sweden and has since gone viral in more than 100 countries, according to the Michigan Climate Action Network.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Roeper students get in on #FridaysForFuture

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 18, 2019

BIRMINGHAM — Last Friday morning, when students would typically be waiting out the clock until they’re released for lunch, many young people around the world were taking to the streets with signs and slogans to draw attention to climate change.

The demonstration was, specifically, a show of support for 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who protested in front of the Swedish Parliament building every school day for three weeks to show her disappointment in the government’s lack of action to address climate change.

Her demonstration went viral, and soon she was joined by students around the globe who share her passion and participated in coordinated events, dubbed online #FridaysForFuture.

Some would argue that locally, the protest is a way to cheer on the student plaintiffs in the Juliana v. United States youth climate lawsuit. Twenty-one students from Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Alaska and several other states originally filed suit against the federal government complaining that in taking affirmative action to cause man-made climate change, it violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources, according to Our Children’s Trust, a group that supports and represents youth lawsuits to protect natural resources.

That lawsuit is still wrapped up in the courts, challenged by numerous motions by the government to have the case dismissed. Currently, a stay in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is in place, preventing the case from proceeding to trial.

No matter the motivation, the March 15 demonstration was a call to action for those in power and in local communities to not only do what they can to curb further harm to the Earth’s atmosphere, but to simply acknowledge the problem in the first place.

“It is so exciting to see young people around the world today demanding action on climate change, and especially to see Michigan high school students leading climate strike events in cities around our state,” Kate Madigan, the director of the Michigan Climate Action Network, said in a prepared statement. “We are in a moment right now where inaction and denial about global warming is changing. Public awareness and concern about climate change is at an all-time high. Now we have elected leaders in Congress pushing for policy solutions to climate change that are actually bold enough to deal with this crisis.”

Fifteen-year-old Ellie Barron, a sophomore student at the Roeper Upper School, located in Birmingham, joined classmates to show their concern about the issue.

“I actually found out about the strike by seeing an ad on Edmodo,” a social networking site for students, parents and teachers, “and then researching the strike online,” Barron, of Troy, said in a text message. “I took part in the demonstration because the issue of climate change is important to me. We need to protect our Earth and our futures.”

Students, however, can only do so much. The call to action from these protests falls to their parents and government representatives, who have the ability to take legislative action on their behalf, Madigan said.

“We have the ability to avoid the worst consequences of climate change if we act now,” she said in her statement. “It’s possible. We have the technology right now, we just need political will — the leaders who will vote yes. To get there, we need people to rise up and demand it.”

Barron said she’s not sure how, but she’ll continue to be involved in the fight to repair the planet.

“I don’t know exactly what my next move would be, but I definitely want to continue to advocate for action on global climate change, because it is an important issue that needs to be addressed,” she said.