More than 100 people rallied in Anchorage today in solidarity with an international effort for a Global Climate Strike to raise awareness of climate change.
“What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now,” the organizers chanted.
Seventeen-year-old Maxim Unruh was the organizer of the event, in partnership with Alaska Youth for Environmental Action. Unruh is a German exchange student attending East High School in Anchorage. He says students in Anchorage have described change on the local level.
“If I talk to high school peers, what they first start talking about is how they see in their own lifetime how glaciers are melting,” Unruh said, “and they see the effects of winters where a decade ago the winter was much colder and more snow than we have today.”
Unruh says the global, student-led Climate Strike was sparked by a 2018 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. The report says that unless major changes are made to address climate change in the next 11 years, the effects could be irreversible. Unruh says the long term effects for Alaska could be disastrous.
“Alaska is going to have issues with invasive species which can cause billions of dollars to the forest industry,” Unruh said. “Fisheries, salmon is on the decline, which is going to have huge effects on the economy. And people are concerned about their own future here in Alaska.”
Seventeen-year-old West High student Natalie Fraser was another speaker at the rally. She says the effects of climate change should be taken seriously.
“Recently in Anchorage, we had an earthquake, and that kind of natural disaster brought people together. We saw a demand for action and an expectation for action,” Fraser said. “We would not let any leader who would not take action on any kind of grand disaster be elected. And yet we sit here, and we let the people in Washington and in the White House refuse to take action, and pull out of the climate agreement.”
Participants held signs with messages such as “No Planet B,” “I Want a Hot Date, Not a Hot Planet,” and “The Oceans Are Rising And So Are We.”
Internationally, students skipped school to participate in the demonstrations. Anchorage students are currently on spring break.
Unruh says throughout the day, scores of people across the globe rallied in opposition to a lack of action on climate change. He says he hopes to organize a large rally every month to garner support.