School Strike Called for Climate Change Awareness

Jan 17, 2019

A Tallahassee eighth grade student is calling for a Leon County school strike tomorrow (Friday, 1/18). That student, Charlotte Stuart-Tilley, wants to focus more attention on the issue of climate change.

Swedish student Greta Thumberg, whose activism inspired the Leon County school strike.
Credit twitter.com

Stuart-Tilley, a soft-spoken but intense young lady, is deeply concerned about the climate change issue. Particularly if nothing if not enough is done to counter it.

“We’re going to have a major energy crisis. We’re not going to have enough resources and materials. I say this to a lot of people and people say, ‘Are you excited to grow up and raise a family?’ I don’t want to have kids because I don’t want to see what their life is going to be like then. Because already we’re starting to see these effects and whenever I’m an adult we’ll see these effects. What are my kids going to see?,” she asked with obvious passion.

Stuart-Tilley saw a kindred spirit – and a force for change – in the persona of a 15-year old student in Sweden who began a series of school strikes to call attention to the issue.

“Greta Thunberg," explained Stuart-Tilley. "She’s a Swedish environmental activist, and she chose to start striking whenever the Swedish school year started. And it made international headlines September first. And she chose to sit in front of Sweden’s Parliament Building and protest. She brought her textbooks with her and would talk to anyone who walked by.”

Stuart-Tilley admits the adults in Thunberg’s life, such as her parents, teachers and especially the members of the Swedish Parliament, weren’t exactly thrilled with her activism at first.

“Well, they were very frustrated because she needed to go to school. But they eventually compromised with her and allowed her to only strike on Fridays. And her friends joined her and she got a big following and people all around the world had their own school strikes.”

Since Thunberg began her protest, a growing number of adults as well as students have rallied to her cause. And even though Sweden already had one of the world’s most ambitious plans to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, there’s a growing realization that may not be enough. Now Stuart-Tilley wants to replicate Thunberg’s campaign in Florida’s Capital City. And she’s calling on Leon County’s students, whether public, private, or homeschooled like herself, to join the protest.

“This Friday bring your textbooks, homework and materials, and just sit down in front of Florida’s Capital Building and protest the lack of action we have against climate change.”

She believes the potential impact could be formidable.

“If you are in the school system, you know that these kids have the power to do a lot of things. We have thousands of students in our school system: over 2,000 in Leon High School alone. If every one of those students were on strike along with their teachers, you wouldn’t have any school.”

Stuart-Tilley acknowledges this would certainly attract attention. But her larger aim is to convince more grownups – the ones who ultimately have the power, to take action.

“We have plans, policies and ideas. We just don’t have people acting on it. So listen to the kids and what they want and just act on climate change in general. There are so many ways like solar power. If you can find a way – there is a way – to make things cheaper. There are lots of government plans and policies that have been proposed, but they haven’t been voted on. They haven’t happened yet.”

And for adults who say anything that keeps students out of class is bad, Stuart-Tilley has this message.

“Your kids are going to be seeing the effects. There’s a quote by Greta Thunberg along the lines of: ‘What is the point of learning all these facts that the finest scientists have brought upon us if even the politicians don’t listen to these facts? There’s no point in going to school if we’re going to be taught facts we’re then told to ignore.’”

Friday’s school strike at the Florida Capitol happens between9 a.m. and 1 p.m.