Atlanta Youth Demand Politicians Stop Fiddling While the Earth Burns and Take Action on Climate Change

Young people are experiencing anxiety, depression, fear, hopelessness, anger and many other emotions over climate change.  They feel that elected officials and adults have failed them and are ignoring and/or denying the reality of climate change.   Some young people don’t plan to have children because they fear their children will inherit an unlivable planet.

 But more and more young people are fighting back for their lives and their future because they know it is their generation that will be disproportionately affected by climate change.   Every Friday students walk out of their classrooms to strike for climate change

On Friday, December 6th, about one hundred Atlanta youth, along with some older supporters gathered at the state capitol to stand with 7.6 million people around the world in a National Climate Strike to once again demand that action be taken against climate change. 

Two of the speakers pointed out that they had to skip school and sacrifice their education to do the work that legislators refused to do – fight for their future.

They passed around a petition for everyone to sign with legislative demands for clean air, safe water, and healthy soil for generations now and in the future. 

The crowd chants “Climate Change is Not a Lie, Don’t Let the People Die.”

“The crisis is real and Georgia is already experiencing negative impacts,” Carina Manitus said at the Atlanta Youth Climate Strike at the state capitol.

For example, Hurricane Michale in southwest Georgia caused $1.2 billion in agricultural damage, especially to cotton and pecan farmers and over 100 chicken houses were destroyed.  The storm spun tornadoes, uprooted trees, caused infrastructure damage, closed roads, destroyed homes and knocked power off to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.   

The sea level is projected to rise one to four feet by the next century which will devastate Georgia’s coast and barrier islands.  Days over 95 degrees are projected to increase by 500 percent in the next thirty years putting lives at risk.

Climate change is causing more frequent and severe wildfires.  In 2017, almost four thousand fires burned over 200 thousand acres in Georgia. 

Climate change is driving slower and wetter storms like Florence that devastated North Carolina.

 “Climate Change is not just an issue of science, it is a moral issue of justice.  While all Georgians are being affected our leaders are busy denying, deflecting and making excuses for their inaction,” Manitius said. 

“They say addressing climate change is just too expensive but what is expensive is doing nothing.  Would you rather spend money treating people who have cancer or heart disease because they grew up next to a coal ash pit or spend it investing in solar energy,” Manitius questioned. 

 “We have until 2030 to prevent the most catastrophic impacts.  That means if we want to stay on track hitting 1.5-degree celsius or  2.7 Fahrenheit then we need to cut our global emission by at least 45% in the next 10 years,” Manitius explained. 

Other students point to Georgia Power as part of the problem by dragging us backward with fossil fuels and spending billions on dangerous nuclear power, which produces radioactive waste products, instead of investing all those billions in clean, safe solar energy.

 “We are the 8th in the nation for solar potential and….because of Plant Scherer the dirtiest coal plant in the United States we are the 8th highest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the nation,” Angela Jiang with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said. 

When coal is burned it creates coal ash which contains high levels of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead, selenium and other cancer-causing agents which is a health hazard and environmental threat to nearby communities. 

“These nuclear plants, radioactive waste sites, coal plants, and coal ash ponds are next to the poorest and predominantly Black communities in Georgia.  “This is no coincidence…this is social racism,” Jiang said. 

The crowd chants, “No More Corporate Greed, Renewables Are What We Need.” 

“Governments around the world have failed their duties to protect their citizens.

Climate change is one of the greatest human-made crises.  Governments are blinded by power and money and fail to prioritize climate justice,” Sujin Cho said at the Atlanta Youth Climate Strike.

Around the world, 7,000 universities from six continents have announced that they are declaring a climate emergency. 

More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries have declared a climate emergency in a paper published in BioScience.

More than 700 scientists have signed a declaration of support for the people around the world engaging in non-violent civil disobedience to pressure political leaders to act on the climate crisis.

Just like in ancient Rome when emperor Nero played his violin while Rome burned, thus revealing his total lack of concern for the people.  Today, in Washington D.C and state capitals around the country, many politicians are absorbed with self-interests, money, and greed while the planet burns.

The crowd chants, “Climate Change is a War of the Rich Upon the Poor.”

However, the young people are unstoppable as they demand politicians act on climate change.  It is their lives that are at risk and because they believe another world is possible. 

by Gloria Tatum

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