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4 Million Attend Biggest Climate Protest in History, Organizers Declare 'We're Not Through'

Climate
Activist Greta Thunberg leads the Youth Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in New York City. Roy Rochlin / WireImage / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

As organizers behind Friday's Global Climate Strike reported that four million children and adults attended marches and rallies all over the world — making it the biggest climate protest ever — they assured leaders who have been reticent to take bold climate action that the campaigners' work is far from over.


The Global Climate Strike was just the first day in a week of public actions ahead of the U.N. Climate Action Summit.

On Saturday, the group shared images of more demonstrations being held in countries including Kenya, France and Indonesia.

Young climate action leaders who helped to bring the Global Climate Strike to fruition are gathering Saturday at the U.N. in New York for a historic Youth Climate Summit. Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who held the first one-person climate strike a year ago in Sweden; 17-year-old Xiye Bastida; and 14-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor will speak at the event.

As world leaders attend the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday, campaigners are planning dozens of events for the coming week to demand concrete action from policymakers to begin a rapid shift to a renewable energy economy.

350.org, one of the organizations behind the Global Climate Strike, reported late Friday that in the U.S. alone, 600,000 people attended actions in their communities to kick off the week of action. An estimated 300,000 attended the strike in New York City.

Strikes were held in 185 countries, with 1.4 million people walking out of their workplaces and classrooms across Germany and 330,000 attending actions all over Australia.

"Today we saw a movement, made up of people from all ages and backgrounds coming together and calling for the end of coal, oil and gas," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "September 20th was a demonstration of intent, of 4 million people who took time off from work or school to say that they are ready. Ready to move on and make the changes we need for a future free from fossil fuels and based in climate equity and justice."

"Today's demonstrations mark the beginning of a global mobilization which will span until next Friday, September 27th," Boeve added.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.