By Maia Stout and Hailey Feuling
While vacationing in Yachats, Oregon over the holidays we came across an inspiring example of youth activism. Two high school students were standing next to Route 101 holding signs about global warming as part of the “School strike for Climate Change” movement. Solar Oregon asked them for an interview
Solar Oregon: What is “school strike for climate change,” how did you get involved and what are your plans to continue this activism?
Maia Stout: My friend, Hailey, and I plan to participate in striking for climate change every Friday. Instead of going to school we’ll stand on the side of the road with signs demanding we keep our world climate under 1.5 degrees. This new spark of activism is happening all over the globe starting with the seed of Greta Thunberg who urges students to strike saying “We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to be changed.” and with that a growing amount of students and I have begun to strike for action. We aren’t only striking for climate but also eating the most morally ethical diet for our earth. Theoretically; If we all went vegan tomorrow 14.5 to 15.6 percent of anthropogenic gases (what causes climate change) based on the 60% of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the animal agricultural sector would disappear. We always encourage veganism, for example, I do talks with my dad all around my community about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Us striking for climate is another way to promote veganism using the power of education, to show the politicians who have ignored our planets biggest crisis that change is coming whether we like it or not.
Solar Oregon: What has been the response to your signs?
Maia Stout: The response we most commonly are given while holding signs like “climate change is real” and “school strike for climate” is positive support. People will honk their car horns and give an encouraging thumbs up. On the contrary, encouraging our protest means they understand and agree to do all they can to reduce the negative effects of climate change, but understanding isn’t taking action. The best response we’ve received is when a particular couple approached us to ask what they can do to help. We would like to raise awareness but the world should already understand the radicalities of climate change. Sadly, we still see a few people who roll their eyes in ignorance. Instead, we want to turn our message into an inspiration to encourage action toward a better future.
Solar Oregon: What are young people in Oregon saying about climate change?
Maia Stout: The students who attend my school appear to be uneducated on what climate change even is. Most students are thirsty for knowledge, asking what climate change is and why it’s so important. I give them the answer which reveals the way to a better future is changing how we do things now. Or like Greta says “The rules have to be changed.” To other students and adults in Oregon the word ‘change’ isn’t welcome because it could lead to something that’s uncomfortable, so they revert to ignorance. Where instead of joining my friend and myself to protest or even taking the smallest of effort to research and learn on the topic, they simply let it slip away and say it’s not real. Sadly this is the most common response but there still are people who stop, think, and take action. These people, like Greta Thunberg, like my friend and I, and like the couple who asked how they can help, they are the people that are saying my generation needs to speak up and make changes to save the planet.
Solar Oregon: What do you think adults should be doing about this?
Maia Stout: Like the youth of my generation, adults simply need to be educated on this topic. Adults should’ve been taking action all along, throughout their whole lives climate change has been a legitimate crisis and only now they’re rising up to take responsibility for the younger generations future. But I, Maia Stout, and my friend, Hailey Feuling, encourage every adult to live up to the reality that our top priority is doing everything possible to convert to a zero-emission planet. “What value is there in a future where hundreds of millions of people suffer?” says Greta. She makes it clear to every leader, whether you are a parent, or coach, or student who inspires their classmates, you hold the responsibility of the rising generations future in their hands and it’s up to them whether they will drop it or keep it safe.