DES MOINES, Iowa — Dozens of students skipped class Friday morning to demand action on climate change with presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sixteen-year-old Torin Lackmann said it is worth missing one day of school if it means getting politicians to take climate change more seriously.
“I learn some stuff in school, but if I’m not going to have a future, there’s no point going anyways,” she said.
One politician who will not need any convincing is Sanders, who many students said is leading the presidential field on climate change with his “Green New Deal.” The $1.7 billion plan aims to attack climate change by weaning the United States off fossil fuels and creating high-paying jobs in clean energy industries.
“A lot of people on the right think it’s too radical and too much change too soon,” Lackmann said. “But with how bad and intense the climate crisis is right now, the change needs to be made and we don’t have time to waste messing around.”
Their “Youth Climate Strike” was in tandem with hundreds of other strikes around the nation Friday. This date was intentionally planned, as climate activists such as Swedish teen Greta Thunberg and other world leaders gathered at the United Nation’s climate change conference in Madrid on Friday.
Sanders applauded the young activists for their involvement in the cause, but also took the opportunity to pitch himself to those who will be old enough to caucus for him in February.
“This is a moment in history where we have got to think big because the crisis we face are big crises,” he said. “And as president of the United States, I’m not going to tell you that climate change is a hoax. I’m not going to deny the reality.”
Eighteen-year-old Drew Sullivan said she attended because she is tired of seeing older generations ignore the problem.
“If we won’t address it, it will cause us major problems as it already started to,” she said. “We are the first generation to actually start worrying about and see the effects and realize these will be in our lifetime and we’re going to be the ones to change it if the older generations won’t.”