Global Youth Climate Strike: UMKC Edition

“No coal. No oil. Keep the carbon in the soil!” Nearly 200 students, community members and organization members joined together to chant this during the global youth climate strike at the UMKC University Play House on March 16th. These strikes have been taking place across the world in over 100 different countries including the United States. These strikes are to push for change to occur in political systems with respect to climate change and global warming. Climate Change is essentially the broad range of weather patterns including temperatures or rainfall. This is largely attributed to the burning of fossil fuels that cause heat-trapping gases to be present in the Earth's atmosphere. This worldwide movement, Fridays for Future, is youth-led, and originally organized by Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Greta Thunberg. UMKC`s strike was organized by multiple organizations including Women in Science, Student Environmental Coalition, Geology Club, Society of Physics Students, Fossil Free UMKC and Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists.

The strike consisted of various speakers from different organizations from the university and the community. Kadie Bennis, a graduate student at UMKC, was one of the key organizers in the event. I had the chance to talk to her, and she explained how she was able to spread this idea of a global youth strike around the university and the local community. Bennis stated that she had multiple affiliations with different organizations and friends and was, therefore, able to collaborate with a general email to spread the idea to others that were interested in the topic. She said that the most important thing to stimulate change in our community is to have a really good grasp of communication. By having conversations and creating networks, we are able to discuss the importance of climate change and what this phenomenon actually means with respect to science and society.

Different organizations and clubs had tables set up with flyers laid out that provided more information on how to get involved as well as other details regarding upcoming events. Kevin Grooms, the local chairperson for Thomas Hart Benton Club - Sierra Club, invited everyone at the strike to another upcoming event on April 5th at 11 a.m. outside of Whole Foods Market. The purpose of this event is to continue the change or development and share information with different community members and leaders.

“This movement is a two-step process: tell each other and tell the people in power.” Grooms said. This ties in with Bennis’ idea of communicating with each other.

The windy winter day did not scare away climate activists as many came to support this ‘Fridays for Future’ movement. The strike was filled with empowering people with empowering thoughts and ideas. UMKC hopes to keep building this movement and creating change among the political systems across the world, as the wealthy and people in power have the most capability of change.