Evanston Township High School students join in global climate strike movement


Kalen Luciano/The Daily Northwestern

Aldric Martinez-Olson, ETHS senior and student organizer, speaks to the crowd of 400 community members gathered for the climate strike. Students demanded climate justice in addition to climate action.

Kalen Luciano, Reporter

Evanston Township High School students chanted “there’s no planet B,” as they marched to Fountain Square, joining a worldwide, youth-led movement to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change.

Their chants echoed through the streets, all the way down to where residents stood at Fountain Square, where they were greeted by the applause of parents, public officials and residents. The banners of the marchers and the signs of the onlookers blended in the square, where their chants grew louder.

In solidarity with over 5,000 marches across the world, nearly 400 Evanston residents gathered in the square Friday to assert the urgency of the climate crisis.

Many student organizers at the strike felt a renewed sense of urgency after the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report found that there are only 11 years left until the effects of climate change will be irreversible.

“For a very long time, climate change has been in the back of everyone’s minds, but if we don’t start now, we will never start,” ETHS junior and student organizer Jacob Brodsky said. “If not now, when?”

Even though Chicago organized a strike, Aldric Martinez-Olson, an ETHS senior and one of the student organizers, said it was important to have one in Evanston that was easily accessible to the community.

“We just want to support climate action, educate (residents) about climate justice and involve the community,” Martinez-Olson said.

Illinois Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and state Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) joined the call for action. Both spoke about carbon pollution and years of the country and state failing to take action. While they both have worked to pass state legislation to reduce emissions and fight climate change like the Clean Energy Jobs Act, they recognize the importance of listening to the organizers of these marches — young people.

“We can’t do this alone. We need to do this together,” Fine said. “Now is the time to have the adults in the room listen to our kids.”

Though students called for action on climate change, they also focused on climate justice, talking about how low-income people and people of color are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. In Evanston, for example, the only waste treatment facility is located in the 5th Ward, in which a majority of residents are people of color.

ETHS senior and student organizer Bella Hubbard saw the impact of environmental injustice firsthand, when she studied in Ecuador and found plastic everywhere. Now, as she watches the Amazon Rainforest burn at unprecedented rates after government neglect, she said the indigenous communities who rely on the land will suffer the most.

“If you want to live on Earth in a healthy way, you have to care about this. It’s not really an option at this point,” ETHS junior and student organizer Callie Stolar said. “This is our home. If you want to have kids, this is their home, and you want them to have a home to grow up in.”

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