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A strike for a cause

Climate awareness event takes place at NMU

By CHRISTIE BLECK

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Greta Thunburg, the Swedish teenager who has raised global awareness about climate change, probably would have been proud.

A large crowd showed up at noon Friday around the bronze Wildcat statue outside Jamrich Hall at Northern Michigan University for the Marquette Climate Strike, one of many taking place globally that day.

Global Climate Strikes involve people walking out of their businesses, homes and other places to bring attention to climate change. The strikes started just before Monday’s Climate Action Summit at the United Nations, and will continue Friday.

NMU freshman Grace Schumann was one of the most vocal participants in the event.

People around the world, she said, are following the example of Thunburg, who started the Fridays for Future movement in which students skip school on Fridays to demand climate action.

“She left school every Friday, and started with her own little rallies,” Schumann said, “and it’s been happening, and it’s all been leading up to this, the first global strike.”

She said a Twitter scroll on Thursday night indicated people from places in Germany, Australia and other parts of the world were to be involved in the strike.

John Forslin, who represented the Climate Reality Project, said 4,648 strikes were planned for 139 countries.

“It’s been crazy,” Schumann said, “and we’re just another moving part of that.”

Participants in NMU’s strike held signs with messages such as “Don’t be a fossil fool” and “The climate is changing, why can”t we?”

Friday’s event, though, isn’t expected to be the last campus effort that focuses on climate change.

“We’re going to keep up the pace, keep up the energy,” Schumann said.

Climate change, obviously, is a concern for her.

“It’s my planet,” Schumann said. “My therapist is like, ‘Hey, you have this thing called climate grief, and it’s something that a lot of people in our generation are having.”

She called it an “unwillingness to move on,” and with all statistics and “all the horrible things we see,” a “climate apartheid” is coming up soon.

“We’ve got 30 years before we move past the point of no return,” Schumann said. “We have 18 months to make legislation. It’s scary, and I want to continue living in this world past 45 years old.”

Another major strike participant was NMU sophomore Kathryn Holze.

“All the science is united,” Holze said. “If we don’t fix this climate issue, nothing else we really do matters. This is the future of everyone who’s alive right now. This is the future of our children and all the future generations.

“We know that this is happening. They will look back on us and they will be like, ‘Did they take action or not?’ Their future depends on ours.”

Participants also had planned to protest outside of the office of Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, along West Washington Street on Friday afternoon.

Other climate change-related programs are planned at NMU.

The first Climate@Noon presentation, “How to Lobby for Climate Action,” will be at noon Friday in room 1313 in Jamrich Hall in partnership with Marquette Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The presenter will be the lobby’s Kristen Carlson. There is also a new student chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby at NMU.

This presentation will include an overview of important legislation, experiences at a recent regional conference and tips to lobby elected officials for climate action.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization empowering people to exercise their personal and political power. The Marquette chapter is one of hundreds of chapters across the world.

All Northern Climate Network presentations are free and open to the public and sponsored by Marquette’s Climate Adaptation Task Force.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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