We only have one planet: 2019 Climate Strike demands reform

Video courtesy of Alyssa Perez.


Junior Alyssa Perez at the climate strike in Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Perez.

Helena Savage, Editor

By Helena Savage

“Climate change is not a lie! Do not let our planet die,” chanted junior Alyssa Perez at the Global Climate Strike of 2019.

Perez, along with millions of other concerned people, joined the resistance against climate crisis inaction on the Washington D.C National Mall, catalyzing the powerful youth movement demanding change. 

The youth climate change movement exists to inform the global community of the roots of this crisis and the corrupt political system failing to defend our home. Perez states that “with this ‘all youth led’ thing, it really goes to show that we are the people in power.” 

Understanding the major contributors to climate change instills the power to ignite reform across all ages. The climate debate comes from a series of detrimental impacts, all connecting back to one main cause. 

That cause, according to Perez: “The political inaction against [climate change], especially since a lot of the world leaders are being funded by and funding fossil fuel industries because that’s a big contributor to the whole carbon emissions. As well as, the systemic racism present with it, because a lot of the time, not a lot of people know this, but fossil fuel industries establish their refineries in places that are predominantly communities of color, and so even if we try to combat it we first have to tackle the systemic racism at its roots.” 

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Perez.

Unknown to much of the global population, the contributing factors to climate change extend further than simply air pollution and capitalism. Perez addresses the heart of this planetary crisis, as our Earth is dying a slow death due to humanity’s ignorance and lack of hope to fight back against these fossil fuel industries and corporate capitalism.

Perez acknowledges this ignorance, as the climate crisis will continue to propel forward due to the corruption within our government and political ineptitude to allow all people to believe in a better future for Earth’s climate. A reality not unlike this is already forming, and will become permanent if we do not take charge to unify as the human race and combat climate change.

Perez describes these feelings of belittlement and disregard as originating at the top of the national hierarchy. 

“The government like lowkey puts apathy in our minds and it makes us feel like we’re so small and that we can’t actually do anything,” said Perez.

This past summer Perez also attended a program held by Sierra Club which addresses how to deal with the government’s oppression of our voices. 

“In it [Sierra Club program] I was taught how to transform the apathy that’s instilled in us from such a young age, as a result of the systemic oppression and turn that into anger and then hope and courage,” said Perez.

Perez confirms that the general population is programmed to default to fear and loss of hope since our government can sometimes blur the truth, especially in this crisis. The climate crisis will not evolve into climate restoration without feelings of courage and empowerment since anger and extreme worry only  allow humanity to give up on our Earth. 

An example includes island nations, according to Perez, which may completely disappear into the depths of rising sea levels if the climate crisis continues at a rapid rate of impact as this current time period.

“There’s also places in India and Africa who are already facing Day Zero, where they’ve run completely out of clean drinking water,” said

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Perez.

Perez. Day Zero increases the potential for further  humanitarian crises among children and adults in third world or impoverished countries, all due to the rapid climate increase. With a significant increase in deforestation, waterway pollution due to pesticides and runoff pollutants, and constant fossil fuel exhaustion, the Earth has reached a breaking point. 

 “We’re one species and we’re literally poisoning our rivers. We’re chopping down our trees and overall it’s just a whole big mess because aside from the environmental damage that we’re doing, we’re also contributing a lot to social damage and irreversibly changing all aspects,” said Perez. “Especially if we think of it in terms of indigenous lands and indigenous rights, like the fires in the Amazon. [The Amazon forest is] not being burned because that’s just how the world works, they’re being burned because of capitalism.”

Even though this is a harsh reality, there are still people who oppose the existence of the climate crisis or the impacts of youth climate leaders. From Perez’s point of view, it is this lack of hope and courage to promote action over inaction that misguides our future. 

The recent rise in climate awareness stems from the global Climate Strike of Sept. 25, 2019 and the UN climate conference on Sept. 21, 2019. Perez, one of millions globally, striked in Washington D.C. with keynote attendees including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), one woman from an indigenous tribe, and youth leader Jerome Foster who attended the UN climate conference. Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thundberg, even striked for justice in NYC relaying the international unity surrounding this fight.

In response to the members of the population who see young adults as incapable of changing the world from a national standpoint, Perez highlights the role of this movement. 

“This youth-led movement especially, is such a force to be reckoned with because it’s like we’re going to be the ones who are taking over some day,” said Perez. “We’re the ones who are most affected, and we’re the ones who are facing the harshest implications, and yet we’re not given enough of a voice.”

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Perez.

Although there are adults in today’s society who mute and oppress the voices of youth, Perez acknowledges that the whole youth community is not completely alone in defending our home. “It’s important for us to realize that young people are the force of this movement and that it’s not just us though,” said Perez. “We also have allies from other generations who are coming together to support us. There’s so much hope in the air, it’s contagious.” 

After the National Climate strike and UN climate conference, there has been an increased exposure to the crisis, forcing citizens of the planet to resist the political inaction. Though Perez emphasizes that the awareness we now have as a human race will only transform our future if we take action.

“There’s this poem by Drew Dellinger called “Hieroglyphic Stairway,” and it really resonated with me the first time I read it because it’s what did you do once you knew,” said Perez. “It’s that type of approach to it and what’s interesting is that we’re the ones who are going to be the most affected by it and everything that’s going on outside right now is already affecting us.” 

The National climate strike has launched a new era of government dissatisfaction. Global youth have demonstrated that “this is definitely shaping the movement,” said Perez. “Because a lot of the chants revolved around shutting down the fossil fuel industry, and just the people expressing their overall disgust in the government.”

Despite the unrelenting damage of the climate crisis, there is hope, there is still potential to break down the barrier of environmental corruption within the government, and revive the health of Mother Earth. Our home, our only home because there is no Planet B.

“We’re one planet, all fighting for the same thing no matter what’s in our way. We’re always going to be just one planet, one species trying to save them all,” said Perez.