By Courtney Cina
Both Youngstown State University and local high school students protested climate change policies on March 15, coinciding with similar strikes worldwide.
Cody Clark, an Ursuline High School student and climate activist, was the organizer of Climate Strike Youngstown.
“Reading the October International Panel of Climate Change, we only have 11 years to avoid a major catastrophe due to global emissions,” Clark said.
He cites his little brother as his motivation for organizing the strike and said he needs to speak up for his brother’s future.
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, was the influence behind this global strike.
She set up a strike by herself to protest what she deems inaction by governments authorities toward rectifying human influences on climate change, which in turn inspired this strike all over the globe March 15. She has marched on strike by herself every Friday since 2016.
Clark, 15, orchestrated the local event. It took place on Youngstown’s north side at the Unitarian Universalist Church. It consisted of multiple speakers and music.
Roughly 20 people attended, and the people involved in the strike consisted of local activists, speakers from different organizations and students.
“If the system is shaken by our refusal to attend school, then people will have to start paying attention and becoming knowledgeable of the climate crisis,” Clark said.
Austin Bashore, co-leader of the Young Greens of Kent State University and member of the Ohio Green Party and the Green Party South Korea, spoke at Friday’s event.
“Many threats affect the climate, from burning fossil fuels to using nuclear power. Us — humans — are the ones that can make the change to protect the climate,” Bashore said.
These student organizers are calling for government officials to take actions now, demanding more renewable energy sources and green infrastructure.
Renee Dubiel, a YSU student participating in the strike, referenced the benefits of green infrastructure.
“When replacing single water treatment plants with green infrastructure, that is already reducing pollutant discharge to receiving waters, removing air pollutants and reducing energy use,” Dubiel said.
To change the nations’ platforms to do away with coal plants and pipelines, NextGen Climate and ConservAmerica online said a growing focus is to improve urban biodiversity, in other words, to become a green city.
A green city is focused on sustainability, they said. This encompasses urban areas all striving to lessen their environmental impacts by reducing waste and expanding recycling while expanding space, and encouraging the development of sustainable local businesses.
Chicago’s city council has plans to become a green city by 2020. Activists at the local strike said Youngstown has potential to become a green city.
Green infrastructure is environment-friendly and uses renewal energy to construct buildings and cities, according to Keland Logan, executive director of The Colony Youngstown. The Colony is a nonprofit organization that improves the community’s health and economy.
Logan spoke at the strike in regard to educating the public on green infrastructure.
“Our task force includes laborers, skilled professional organizers and resident volunteers. All of the employees are knowledgeable of resilient approaches to managing wet weather impacts that provides many community benefits,” Logan said
The Colony’s services are green infrastructure installations, community engagement services and grant proposal assistance. This also includes future plans of housing and large-scale green infrastructure projects.
“The work that we are doing has affected the youth and community of Youngstown by taking a proactive role in learning about green energy and that speaks volumes,” Logan said.
The Colony Youngstown’s mission is to engage, organize and mobilize residents around initiatives and projects aimed at improving the Youngstown Community.