Twenty-two students, carrying signs and hoping to bring attention to climate change, joined a global effort Friday as they lined the sidewalk in front of the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs as part of the Fridays For Future initiative.
“Globally, people are striking,” said Thomas Cooper, a Steamboat Springs High School junior who helped organize this year’s Steamboat rally along with fellow juniors Margaux Shea and Connor Frithsen.
“I think last year some 1.5 million people around the world took part,” Cooper said. “It’s a big global thing, and we’re just one small part of it.”
Fridays for Future: School Strike For Climate is an international climate movement of school students who skip Friday classes to participate in demonstrations to demand action from political leaders to prevent climate change. The movement was inspired by the actions of Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.
School was not in session Friday in Steamboat Springs, but the students showed up anyway to join the cause.
“I think it is so important to get involved in this because we’re getting to a point where we can’t avoid it anymore,” Shea said over the sound of honking car horns. “Especially in the valley with all these fires, and the shortened winters that are impacting our ski season. There was a time when it was something that we could postpone, but now, we are at a time where it’s critical to get involved and to ask for change.”
This is the third time Steamboat Springs High School students have participated in Fridays For Future, and Cooper said this latest effort was to encourage leaders to invest in renewable energy infrastructure through technologies that will reduce greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuel, fund a composting program to reduce food waste that produces greenhouse gas when it is sent to landfills and to provide incentives to construct and upgrade buildings to be at a higher sustainability standard.
Shea, Cooper and Frithsen are all members of the Eco Club at the high school, which has about 25 members. Shea said she got involved with the club as a freshman. This year the club is already organizing a community tree planting effort that is planned for the spring, and the group is also hoping to tackle single-use plastics at the high school.
“We had to go back to using all single-use plastic (because of COVID-19),” Shea said. “We want to go back to dishware and get away from plastic.”
The students were well received, and many passing motorists honked their horns in a show of support. A few disagreed with the effort and stepped on the gas of their diesel trucks as they passed to create a black cloud that drifted over the trespassers — something known as “rolling coal.”
Frithsen, however, did not want that dark cloud to overshadow the day.
“I was pretty happy with the amount of people that showed up,” Frithsen said. “This is the younger generation’s future. … If things continue on the path that we are currently on, and people don’t realize the stuff that they’re doing is actually harmful, then it could really hurt our future with global warming and pollution.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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