60,000-Strong Fridays for Future Protest in Hamburg, Germany Prompts Question: 'Where Are You, USA?'
By Andrea Germanos
U.S.-based youth climate activists on Friday drew attention to the climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, where organizers said roughly 60,000 people took part, and hoped that Americans took inspiration from their European counterparts.
Among those taking part in the large Fridays for Future action in the northern German city was school strike for climate founder Greta Thunberg of Sweden.
Fridays for Future organizer Alexandria Villaseñor of New York City shared Thunberg's tweet showing the massive crowd and asked, "Where are you USA?"
Where are you USA😭 https://t.co/TM54wYpZLc— Alexandria Villaseñor (@Alexandria Villaseñor)1582308257.0
"The United States needs these types of numbers on a regular basis," said Jerome Foster II, a high school senior and Fridays for Future organizer in Washington, DC.
"What is it going to take for the U.S. to rise up like this?" wondered the Durham, N.C. branch of Extinction Rebellion. "We are in a climate catastrophe and people around the world, particularly in the global south are facing the brunt NOW! January 2020 was the warmest since we've recorded temperatures."
Thunberg, who's in her 79th week of Fridays for Future actions, noted in her remarks to the Hamburg crowd that the weekly actions have spread globally.
"For almost one and half years young people have been striking from school all over the world," she said.
"The world is failing on ensuring us a future. And I honestly don't understand how the people in power can continue like now. How they can look their children in the eyes while they are stealing their future?" she asked.
"We are facing an existential crisis," said Thunberg, "but we must keep on pushing."
While the Hamburg march drew attention for its size Friday, other youth-led climate actions took place in communities across the globe, which many documented on social media:
The youth of Kenema have joined us to fight for the climate. They are adding adding their voices in demand for urge… https://t.co/Jm3LqD3qHf— Fridays For Future - Sierra Leone (@Fridays For Future - Sierra Leone)1582277385.0
Week 6 of the climate boycott! We sat through the blazing heat and the lightening today. But no big change happened… https://t.co/3JdkOJcQl0— Rae (of Sunshine) (@Rae (of Sunshine))1582295686.0
Danish activists marching to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand #ClimateAction now. Denmark needs to get a g… https://t.co/Roh0DANml5— SussiLillelund (@SussiLillelund)1582283584.0
It's our responsibility #FridaysForFuture #ClimateCrisis deepens poverty Threaten food and water supply Makes peop… https://t.co/Iwgnvekqq4— Patricia Kombo (@Patricia Kombo)1582310000.0
Villaseñor, in a Friday tweet sharing the climate action she spearheaded in New York, underscored her steadfastness in her demand for urgent and bold action to tackle the ecological crisis.
"It's cold, we're tired, and we're not stopping," she wrote.
WEEK 63 #ClimateStrike at the @UN - and then at NYC City Hall! Today I was joined by @MarielS1115 from… https://t.co/63faFXsIjG— Alexandria Villaseñor (@Alexandria Villaseñor)1582315926.0
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
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Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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