Across the globe Friday, numerous students walked out of school to protest what they consider government inaction in combating climate change.
Ames Middle School students joined the worldwide protest, carrying signs and delivering speeches laden with figures about the changing climate.
Mia, an eighth-grader at Ames Middle School, said this protest is led by “climate activist” Greta Thunberg.
Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, began her own strike in 2018. She carried a sign outside Sweden’s parliament that when translated says, “School strike for the climate,” saying at the time that she would not return to class until politicians took action.
The Ames Middle School students had their own signs with the exact phrasing of Thunberg’s, in Swedish.
“This is in conjunction with thousands of strikes across the globe,” Mia said. “The reason we’re striking is to bring awareness to our want and our need for climate action as well as to bring awareness to European voters in the upcoming European elections that people across the globe want them to vote for people who will bring in climate action.”
The European parliamentary elections began May 23 and will end May 26. Opinion polling suggests that both the Liberal and Green blocs in the parliament will make gains in elections.
“We’re just hoping people leave the strike thinking more about climate change than they were when they came in,” Mia said before most students had come outside.
Mia stood on a picnic table outside the school and spoke through a bullhorn to the sign-bearing students assembled.
“The planet is dying. It pains me to say that, but it’s true,” Mia said to begin her address. “Our species has fought; we have pillaged, we have starved ourselves, but more often than not, we have starved others.”
Most of the several dozen middle school students who assembled stood attentively, listening to the address.
“According to the U.N., we can anticipate a 50% decrease in crops by 2080,” Mia said.
Several other speakers climbed on top of the table and gave speeches, but within 30 minutes the protest was over, signs were collected and students returned to classes.
Eric Smidt, director of school, community and media relations for the Ames Community School District, stood watching near the protest. When asked about school policies regarding events like the strike, Smidt said the district tries working with students.
“Whether it’s here or at the high school, our administrators and principals are always going to support student initiative," Smidt said. "And if they have an idea to do something, and if they take the initiative and bring it to us, we will always work with them to come up with the best solution.”