By CHAZ PLAGER
As part of the Global Climate Strike Protest on September 23, Pacific Palisades teens joined the rest of the world in protest against environmental damage.
Originally created by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, these peaceful, worldwide rallies by people of all ages are held to focus attention on the need for action to combat climate change.
The Human Rights Watch Student Task Force at Palisades Charter High School and Resilient Palisades organized the rally in front of Starbucks in the center of the Village.
The Student Task Force is one of 15 chapters at high schools in Southern California area that focus on issues of human rights that are especially important to teenagers, such as the fate of the environment. The group secured the permits to close the street and set up an information booth with Resilient Palisades.
One resident reported, “There were about 50 students, who carried signs, played music (my favorite was Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’—‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot….’) and roused the crowd with chants and posters demanding action to address the climate crisis.
“Their efforts were greeted with waves, car and truck honks, and yells of support from passersby,” the resident said. “The students clearly succeeded in bringing awareness of the need to address the climate and environmental crisis directly into the heart of our community.”
PaliHi teacher Steve Engelmann, who has already been incorporating climate change education into his AP Environmental Science classes, spoke at the protest.
“We want to make our voices heard, as elections are coming up for mayor of Los Angeles and we’d like the candidates to know climate change is an important issue to their constituents.”
Similarly, Resilient Palisades is a community-led organization trying to reduce the town’s carbon footprint through various initiatives such as the Pali Microgrid Project, which seeks to install a solar grid on most of the houses in the Palisades.
Resilient Co-founder Ingrid Steinberg, who helped organize the protest alongside Englemann and the Student Task Force, said she hopes that Palisadians will consider joining Resilient projects.
Students were, of course, the main attendees. Junior Carter Yen described his reason for joining the rally. “I mean, most adults are pretending the problem doesn’t exist because they’ll be dead before it gets really bad. We’re the new generation, and we’re actually going to have to deal with this. So we want to make our voices heard.”
The mood over the strike was a general sense of optimism. Smiles and cheering could be seen and heard all around.
However, not all were so optimistic. A student who wished to remain anonymous had a gloomier view of the situation. “I just don’t think it’s ethical to have kids anymore,” they stated. “I mean, the world’s already super screwed up and we’re way too late to fix anything. Making kids watch the world crumble further to bits would just be cruel. And besides, who has the money to raise a kid these days anyways?”
When asked why they still attended the rally if they felt the environment was beyond repair, they replied with a shrug, “I don’t know.”
The world is currently on pace to have the average global temperature rise by three degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. There may be a time that children born today only understand what the polar ice caps were through photos and textbooks.
Should this disturb you, checking candidates’ stances on climate change and writing to them to let them know that it is an issue their constituents care about is a good way to have your voice heard. (Visit: https://www.hrwstf.org/wordpress/vote-for-the-planet/ ). Joining Resilient Palisades in their microgrid project would also be a way to take direct action. (Visit: https://resilientpalisades.org/).
The HRW Student Task Force website is: https://www.hrwstf.org/wordpress/