Students took part in the Global Climate Strike in San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 20, joining millions across the globe walking out of work or school to rally against climate change.
The global strike, which lasts until Sept. 27, received a special endorsement from local school officials after the San Diego Unified Board of Trustees voted unanimously to pass a Youth Climate Action resolution in support of the protest. The move provoked both support and criticism from the community.
“We are excited to join students in this climate action rally,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said, according to a report by the San Diego Unified Newscenter on Sept. 11. “We also want to make sure our students are safe and do not leave our school sites for their safety and security.”
Meanwhile, Rebecca Friedrichs, a public school teacher of 28 years and the lead plaintiff in a 2016 lawsuit against the California Teachers Association, called the board’s action “hysterical climate alarmism in our schools.”
Students in many other California locations, such as the Bay Area, did not excuse students for the climate rally, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. However, some classes in the Oakland area attended the protest on organized field trips.
The climate campaign is being organized in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit, which takes place on Sept. 23.
San Diego Unified students have been involved in many other environmental activities, taking part in “Green Teams” and other groups such as “Planet Protectors,” which engage in recycling and other anti-climate change activities.
Prior to the board’s actions, several marches took place across California demanding local and state officials to support the Green New Deal, a non-binding resolution pushed by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Calling for a “10-year national mobilization,” the Green New Deal planned to move the country away from fossil fuels such as oil and replace them with wind, solar, and other renewable sources of energy.
Climate Science or Political Ideology?
Following the vote in San Diego, board vice president John Lee Evens and board trustee Richard Barrera joined students during a gathering promoted by SanDiego350, a volunteer organization fighting “climate injustice.”
During the event, SanDiego350 executive director, Masada Disenhouse, said the group is “grateful for the support and encouragement that San Diego Unified is providing local students who decide to participate in the walkouts,” according to the San Diego Unified Newscenter.
To students preparing for the big strike, the support meant a lot.
“It’s important that our voices are not only heard, but lifted up,” San Diego High School Sophomore Elea Castiglione said. “We have had the opportunity to stand up for what we believe in.”
Despite the enthusiasm, critics believe that the strike’s use of students is a political move.
James Taylor, the director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Energy, told The Epoch Times that the movement asks children to look to the government for a climate solution. It teaches them that what we need is “the socialist, government-centered transformation of the American economy.”
But evidence shows this transformation “would impoverish the country and leave few resources available to address true environmental challenges.”
“If teachers and students truly wish to positively impact our environment,” said Taylor, “they should teach and study sound science.”
“Rather than present a rational adult discussion based on scientific facts and evidence, alarmists purposely terrify and psychologically abuse children with false claims of planetary destruction,” he said.
Steve Goreham, author and executive director of the Climate Science Coalition of America (CSCA), agreed.
“It’s unfortunate that students intend to walk out of school,” he told The Epoch Times.
“Evidence shows that the one degree Celsius rise in global temperatures since 1880 that everyone is concerned about is not abnormal.” Additionally, “[the increase] is probably driven by nature, not human greenhouse gas emissions.”
Goreham argued that students should be taught to care about less ambiguous issues that don’t push political ideologies.
“According to United Nations data, a billion people do not have access to electricity, 600 million people to not enjoy clean water, two billion people do not have access to modern sanitation, and millions die each year from malaria, AIDS, and diarrheal diseases,” he told The Epoch Times.
Why spend so much time attempting to control the temperature, what he called “a futile exercise,” when they could campaign to bring an end to the discharge of untreated wastewater into our “lakes, rivers, and streams?”