“Raise your voice, not the seal level!” read one sign seen on the train in Amsterdam, in the hands of a student on her way to The Hague, for a massive demonstration regarding climate change.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 students turned out on February 7, 2019, at the seat of Dutch government in the Netherlands, to call for major government action regarding climate change. The students, many of them as young as 15, are calling themselves “the climate change generation,” and gather to protest what they see as criminal inaction from their parents’ generation.
“At this point in time where all the warnings are so dire and the science is clear that we have to act, it’s not the students who are on strike but actually the people in power and the big multinationals that are not taking action that are the ones that are really not doing what they’re supposed to do,” said Kim van Sparrentak, one of the Dutch students at the demonstration in an interview with Euronews.
“This generation is now on the streets to start protesting and to show that they want a different world, a better world and a future for themselves.”
“I want you to act as if the house was on fire,” was a call to action from 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, one of the faces of the protest in a video hosted by UN Women. “I don’t want you to hope, I want you to panic… and then I want you to act.”
The protest was supported by an open letter from 350 climate scientists and by many educators. The scientists urged that “political courage and far-reaching measures are needed quickly for the climate,” and many parents signed consent forms allowing their children to skip their scheduled classes.
Not everyone was so supportive, though. The Netherlands’ minster for education, Arie Slob, said he would be supporting any school that chose to report demonstrating students for truancy. To that, another sign had a simple response:
“Why the f—k should I study when the world is ending?”
Photo: Dutch students protest at the Hague on February 7, 2019. Credit: Andrew Balcombe / Shutterstock.com