Why climate strikes can mobilize people in a significant way
Sheila Arellano, News Editor
Climate strikes have become a roar on the streets, a unified voice demanding climate justice. To what extent do these protests incite action? I ask myself this every time I attend a climate strike, and I always arrive to the same conclusion: it’s better than doing nothing. Showing your support and voicing your concerns is a valuable act in and of itself regardless of whether change is imminent or not.
It is hard to gauge the effect climate strikes have on the world. What is clear is that strikes provide a resource for people to educate themselves about the climate crisis. They are creating awareness and from this action can ensue. This awareness is maximized by the amount of people joining the strikes and marching on the streets. Seeing millions of people sharing beliefs can incite others to change their preconceived ideas.
Striking has the potential to ignite a chain reaction of change, shifting mindsets and asserting the desire for cultural evolution. If people see their culture’s values reflected in a march, they are more open to changing their behaviour. I felt this on a personal level after joining my first climate strike, which was when I first became interested in climate justice and politics. Today, I fight the climate crisis every day by spreading the knowledge I have and making conscious choices to reduce my carbon footprint. Speaking up has made me excited to share my values with others. All because of one climate strike.
Crowds also give big companies an idea of collective desires, and can incite leaders to rethink their approach to politically charged issues. Examples from the past prove that peaceful mass movements are effective in changing outdated systems. The Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and the Non-cooperation movement in India are prime examples of this.
Protests create international discussion and promote solidarity. However, protests alone do not achieve change. They give a voice to a cause, which is important, but they do not fight legal battles that make change possible. This is why it is crucial for people to attend strikes while also changing the way they act.
Young people are a powerful demographic that can push for change. Still, in order to reach climate justice, people must walk their talk. For change to be possible, people should be consistent in their actions.
Protests are just one facet of the multi-layered process that is achieving change in society. Though they are a start, people have to push for change in their daily lives by shifting their behaviors and beliefs. As consumers, people have great power. By considering the environment before buying, big polluting companies see a shift in what people want and thus are pressured to change. Being conscious of the power of our choices alongside the power of our voice can incite a shift as long as we persevere. By rising, sharing and acting, change can be imminent.