Young students participated in a school climate strike in Washington, D.C. on March 15, 2019.

Young students participated in a school climate strike in Washington, D.C. on March 15, 2019.

In August 2018, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg staged protests every school day for three weeks outside of the Swedish parliament to protest inaction on climate change. Thunberg’s daily protests switched to weekly — every Friday — and Fridays For Future, an international, youth-led climate justice movement, was born.

Fridays For Future and other climate organizations are leading a D.C. Climate Strike march this Friday, September 20, 2019 as part of a weeklong Global Climate Strike. This week’s protests come just before the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Youth activists are driving these worldwide protests, including here in the Washington area. We’ll talk with three young organizers about their paths to climate activism and planning school strikes and marches.

The Kojo Nnamdi Show is providing special coverage to climate issues this week as part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of 250 news outlets designed to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Produced by Cydney Grannan

Guests

  • Kallan Benson Climate activist and organizer, Fridays For Future; @releaf4us
  • Sophia Geiger National coordinator, Fridays For Future
  • Khadija Khokhar Organizer, Fridays For Future

Transcript

  • 12:00:20

    KOJO NNAMDIYou're tuned in to The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5, welcome. Today we continue our participation in covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of 250 media outlets this week to bring attention to the climate change story. "Our house is on fire and adults aren't listening," that's the refrain from youth climate activists around the world. And this Friday many students in D.C. area schools are skipping school to go on strike for climate justice. The strike in D.C. is part of a coordinated global effort to protest inaction from leaders on climate change.

  • 12:00:52

    KOJO NNAMDIYouth from around the world will attend over 2500 strikes in more than 150 countries between September 20th and 27th. Joining us to talk about the D.C. climate strike and the experience of being a youth activist is Kallan Benson, an organizer with Fridays for Future. Kallan, Benson, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:01:11

    KALLAN BENSONThank you. It's wonderful.

  • 12:01:13

    NNAMDIAlso with us in studio is Sophia Geiger. Sophia, is a national organizer with Fridays for Future. Sophia, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:01:20

    SOPHIA GEIGERThank you for having me.

  • 12:01:21

    NNAMDIAnd Khadija Khokhar is organizer with Fridays for Future. Khadija, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:01:26

    KHADIJA KHOKHARIt's my pleasure.

  • 12:01:27

    NNAMDIYou're all teenagers. I'll start with you Kallan. How old were you when you first got involved with climate activism and what sparked your passion?

  • 12:01:35

    BENSONI was about 9 or 10 when I first started the activism side of climate change. And the reason I started so early was both, because my mother is a marine biologist so she used to work for NOAA. I've always heard about climate change. It's never been a disputed fact in my house. It's always, "It's there. It's happening. This is what we have to do." But when I reached the age of 9 -- 10ish, I don't know exactly I think I really started to realize the implications for myself and my generation, because it is something that is very -- it's scary. It's something that I have a lot of anxiety about and that a lot of the people in the movement have a lot of anxiety about of what will happen to our future. And that's really what sparked my initial move into climate activism.

  • 12:02:38

    NNAMDIHow about you, Sophia?

  • 12:02:39

    GEIGERYeah, so in my family -- I mean, it's always been something, like in Kallan's family, it's always been, this is a thing that's happening. For a long time I saw it as something, you know, in the distance, like icecaps and polar bears and one day the world being on fire, but I really never thought that the world was going to be on fire in my own backyard, you know, as something that I can really see and feel. And it's important to like think about now that it's not just about our future. It's about our present. It's about the people on the frontlines of the climate crisis and how it's affecting them and how it's really not just about our children's lives. It's about our lives.

  • 12:03:12

    NNAMDIAnd you, Khadija?

  • 12:03:14

    KHOKHARI guess I started activism -- I've always been politically active and had a lot of opinions. But specifically regarding the climate crisis I actually joined on the movement last year and I started putting myself in situations where I could speak up and get involved in this movement more recently, because I realized just what Sophia said that this is something that is happening to us and it's going to affect our future. And it's affecting our present right now. So it's not something that we can keep putting off, because as much as we would like to that's just going to be worse for the future.

  • 12:03:49

    NNAMDIKallan, a Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, is the way she pronounces it, popularized the school climate strike where students strike from school to protest local leaders inaction on climate issues. Her strikes sparked the Fridays for Future movement. Can you tell us more about the movement and where the name comes from?

  • 12:04:08

    BENSONAbsolutely, so the name Fridays for Futures comes from the fact that we as students in this movement leave school on Fridays. So we strike from school to demand action on climate change. Greta obviously inspired it in Sweden. And then the U.S. joined on last December with two strikes. One being here in D.C. and another being in New York, which was Zane Kowie, who was then age nine and I was the first one here in D.C., always forgetting that part. But, yeah, that is where the name comes from, it's that we are actively going out on Fridays and taking action and demanding our leaders to actually create significant changes so that we have a safe future for all.

  • 12:05:01

    NNAMDISo Fridays for Future encourages protests every Friday, but then every so often you have a bigger strike like the one scheduled for this Friday, which you call a deep strike. What's that and what goes into planning it?

  • 12:05:13

    BENSONYeah, so I mean, we have these weekly strikes which are pretty informal. It's really just a couple -- it's usually a couple of kids going outside on Fridays with a sign and hanging out and trying to engage conversations. Then we have these deep strikes, which are really -- they're just days that we want to put a lot of energy and action into and that's a more significant planning. We usually get permits for that and we start to advertise it on social media and all across the different climate movement channels, and that takes significant planning, usually maybe a month or so.

  • 12:05:56

    GEIGERMore than that.

  • 12:05:57

    BENSONYeah, to plan one of those.

  • 12:06:01

    NNAMDISo, Sophia, Fridays for Future is a youth lead movement. What's the reasoning behind it?

  • 12:06:06

    GEIGERWell, for the youth it's really about our future and it's about how it's going to impact us. And we are the ones at stake. Right now a lot of the decisions in the world are being made by a privileged few and they're being made by the people, who are benefitting in the short term from the climate crisis. So we think it's really important that we transition that power and that control to the people that are going to have live with the effects of the climate crisis. As well as frontline communities and the people, who are living with it right now especially the youth in those communities.

  • 12:06:32

    NNAMDIKallan, this Friday's D.C. climate strike is part of a global initiative spanning between September 20th and the 27th. Tell us about this protest. What's happening and what are the demands of this protest?

  • 12:06:44

    BENSONYeah. So here in the United States we have almost 1,000 strikes registered in every state and D.C. and Puerto Rico, which is incredible. And again it's really just that we're putting pressure on our leaders both at the U.N., which will be -- they're having their Climate Summit on the 23rd and then our national leaders. We have demands internationally, which is "Unite Behind the Science" and "Stay Below 1.5 degrees C." And then we have five demands nationally, which are the green new deal, respect indigenous --

  • 12:07:31

    KHOKHAR-- Sovereignty, environmental justice.

  • 12:07:35

    BENSONYes, which is part of that.

  • 12:07:37

    GEIGERProtecting biodiversity. You know, we really want to make sure that the frontline communities again are put on like very much on the priority of our list as well as "United Behind the Science."

  • 12:07:45

    KHOKHARYes.

  • 12:07:46

    NNAMDIAnd implementation of sustainable agriculture is my understanding is the fifth demand.

  • 12:07:49

    BENSONPrecisely, yes.

  • 12:07:51

    NNAMDIIn D.C. do you have any idea of how many people you're expecting to join the strike?

  • 12:07:57

    BENSONOh, my goodness. I am so bad at estimating. And I am not --

  • 12:08:01

    NNAMDIWelcome to the club. How about you, Khadija?

  • 12:08:03

    KHOKHARI know right now we have been discussing an estimate of five to 8,000. But we are -- I mean, if you ask me personally I think it's a slight underestimate and I think we're expecting more than that.

  • 12:08:16

    GEIGERAnd we need you guys like every single person to come out. If we want to make this literally the biggest mobilization for climate action we need every single person.

  • 12:08:23

    KHOKHARWhich is what we're trying to do.

  • 12:08:24

    BENSONAnd even if you can't come out to do anything and support that day whether it's posting on social media or even just having a conversation with the person sitting next to you anything you can do in solidarity with us would be incredible.

  • 12:08:39

    NNAMDILast Friday's protest was supposed to be a smaller one, but it garnered national attention when Greta Thunberg came to town to join the Friday strike. What happened at that protest?

  • 12:08:50

    KHOKHARWell, you know, we were -- as Kallan was saying we're bad at estimating. I was in one small part of the crowd. And I was like, oh there's like 250 people here. And then afterwards Kallan's mom goes, so there were like 1,000 people. And I was like, oh. But, yeah, it was -- honestly it was insane. And it was, you know, a really celebratory moment for us, because we really did see a lot of the work that we had been doing, you know, coming to fruition, especially with all the press there. We definitely got to see some people actually paying attention to what we're doing.

  • 12:09:19

    GEIGERAnd I mean, like any it was just a normal Friday strike for us. I mean, we -- I myself and then a couple of other D.C. organizers planned that in just a couple of days. And then we came out and there's all this press there and then a whole bunch of people coming out to support us. Someone drove from Florida in the span after having only announced it two days beforehand. So we were just really overwhelmed by the show of support and I know I was kind of like shaking at that the amount of people that were there.

  • 12:09:52

    KHOKHAREspecially because most Fridays there are 12 to 15 people at the strikes, so this one had thousands and that was a large difference.

  • 12:10:02

    NNAMDIAmnesty International awarded Greta Thunberg on the Fridays for Future movement with their top honor this week the Ambassador of Conscience Award. What was it like to see your organization earn this achievement and what message did Greta have to share at the ceremony?

  • 12:10:16

    KHOKHARIt was incredibly inspiring and what I really appreciated was how Greta emphasized how this movement was for every one of us. And that this movement is not just heard, but it's the millions of people she's striking with every single Friday. And so there wasn't just an award in D.C. There are awards given out all across the world to celebrate the students, who are fighting this fight and demanding a right for their future.

  • 12:10:44

    NNAMDIAnd it seems she made a point of not wanting to be identified as the leader of this movement. What did you think about that?

  • 12:10:51

    BENSONI think it's a testament to how great of a leader she is. You know, she is someone, who -- for one she's very human. You can definitely see that she is not -- you know, there's a lot of celebrities out there who are idealized. You know, they seem to be perfect. They're photo shopped all the time. For her, she's very human and we can tell, you know, she's a real person. She is an ordinary person, who became this amazing incredible figure across the world. And that really gives our movement a little of accessibility, because if she can do it, anyone can do it, right? If we can all become that big impactful climate activist then that's what's going to save the future of humanity.

  • 12:11:29

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break, after that we'll be back with this conversation about how youth are leading the charge in D.C.'s climate strike. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:12:24

    NNAMDIWelcome back, we're having a conversation about youth leading the charge in D.C.' climate strike. We're talking with Kallan Benson. She's an organizer with Fridays for Future. Sophia Geiger is a national organizer with the same organization, Fridays for Future. And Khadija Khokhar is also an organizer with Fridays for Future. Kallan, the D.C. climate strike this Friday is co-lead by numerous organizations. How do you manage that coordination? We should mention that a lot of local chapters of other organizations, the Sunshine Movement, 350.org, etcetera, are also involved with this Friday's strike.

  • 12:12:56

    BENSONAbsolutely. I believe it's actually the Sunrise Movement.

  • 12:13:01

    NNAMDII just renamed it. It's the Sunrise Movement indeed.

  • 12:13:02

    BENSONI like the name, yes.

  • 12:13:04

    GEIGERI believe there's a sunshine something.

  • 12:13:07

    BENSONYes, but I mean, it's a lot of trial and error. I'd say our communication is not always perfect. But we try our best and we certainly -- we have calls when needed. And we just -- I mean, we try to play off the strengths and weaknesses of the different organizations for different parts of the planning.

  • 12:13:27

    KHOKHARWe also have a lot of people who are on more than one organization. So that there's some people that are on Sunrise and they're on 350 and This is Zero Hour. So it's nice to have like someone, who will know at least a contact in the other organization so that we can communicate and be able to organize things together.

  • 12:13:45

    NNAMDIWe got a tweet from Sally from Chevy Chase, who writes, I'm a boomer planning to march in support of these brave young people. Don't we owe it to them? Adult activists, Khadija, are coming and supporting youth during the D.C. climate strike. What role would you like to see the boomers and the other adults play in this youth lead climate justice movement?

  • 12:14:05

    KHOKHARSo what I think is most of these movements like in history all non-violent movements like the Fridays for Future movement has been started by the youth. But adults and the older generations need to join in in order to create the snowball effect and create substantial change, because although we are in the front -- like as youth we are the main faces of this movement, we need adults to join in and fight with us, because without that -- we need those voices. We need those voices and those masses in order to create change. So adults joining in with us creates a big impact and I encourage every adult who is listening to strike on the 20th.

  • 12:14:45

    BENSONI think also there are adults who, you know, have been working on this issue for a really long time, and they have a lot of things that they can offer us, a lot of like learned wisdom. And I think it's important like that passing of the baton, but also that mentorship. And I think, you know, it's really important for adults to take that backseat and, you know, let us drive, but give us a lot of instruction, some guidance.

  • 12:15:06

    GEIGERYeah, I mean, I think all of us have really dear and influential adult mentors that have led us to this place that we are today. So having the support of adult activists and adult allies is so incredibly important to the movement.

  • 12:15:23

    NNAMDIHere is Leon in Silver Spring, Maryland. Leon, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:15:27

    LEONHi, yes, I was wondering whether in your activism you had had any contact with any of the elected officials either through writing or telephone call or any sort of the hard work of actual activism or whether this is just for fun and publicity?

  • 12:15:47

    BENSONWell, I can certainly say it's not for publicity, but yeah. I have been at meetings with elected officials all week. We met -- I personally got to meet Chuck Schumer yesterday as well as my Senator Van Hollen at a press conference yesterday morning. And we have more meetings lined us for this afternoon. So, yeah, we are actively lobbying the Hill this week.

  • 12:16:12

    NNAMDIAnd we got an email from Barbara who says, I'm a parent of a youth activist. One of her first acts was to donate all her lemonade stand proceeds to the Smile Train organization. As a five year old, she saw the power of what happens when one person speaks up. She recently said that she had no interest in aligning with a political party. Rather she's voting on the climate crisis. I would gladly turn over decision making to today's youth. I'm behind these kids 100 percent. Speaking of politics, Khadija, you're 18 now and you'll be able to vote in the upcoming election in 2020, but I'm curious to hear from all of you, if there are certain candidates who you think are representing your concerns well or not. I'll start with you.

  • 12:16:53

    KHOKHARI think that when it comes to the presidential candidates, the biggest thing that I will be looking for is a candidate and I'm assured that most youth are also looking for the same thing. A candidate who is going to take the climate crisis seriously and as it is, a crisis, because for too long America especially has been putting this issue on the backburner. And our generation is demanding that we take action. We make it a climate emergency and we acknowledge the issue and we start implementing the green new deal and other ways in order to acknowledge the issue.

  • 12:17:34

    NNAMDISophia, politicians, politics, candidates.

  • 12:17:37

    GEIGERYeah. So personally I think it's really important to look beyond the politics, because for one the system that we have is not sustainable and we are going to need some radical change of that system to be able to get through this crisis. And that's to me why Fridays for Futures is such an important movement, because we are international. We cross boundaries. We cross political parties. We're about, you know, more than just policy. We're about that systematic change that really needs to happen. But, I mean, any candidate that has good climate policy views, as well as, you know, other social justice views, those are the ones that are going to be getting my vote.

  • 12:18:12

    NNAMDIKallan?

  • 12:18:12

    BENSONYeah, well, I will not be able to vote in the next election, (laugh) but I am -- I mean, I echo what Sophia said, that I really think it's incredible that we are such a non-politicized movement. Because we're looking to -- the climate crisis should not be politics. It's a fact that is happening, and that it's human-caused.

  • 12:18:36

    BENSONOn the other hand, obviously, we are looking for candidates that will implement action with the Green New Deal and then anything that we can get past that starts to mitigate what we're seeing is incredibly important.

  • 12:18:50

    NNAMDISophia, you're a national coordinator with the Fridays for Future movement. How are you working with different Fridays for Future groups across the United States?

  • 12:18:59

    GEIGERWell, first of all, Kallan is literally an international coordinator, so I don't want it to sound like, you know, I'm more of a national level than her. But I also think it's really important to emphasize the fact that Fridays for Future isn't about hierarchy. We're about people contributing different things with different rules. So, you know, national coordinator is just a description of what I do, not anything sort of title or status or whatever.

  • 12:19:21

    BENSONWe coordinate.

  • 12:19:22

    GEIGERWe coordinate. That's what we do. But, so, yeah, I really think that it's important to have that distributed action. And at Fridays for Future, we're really unique in that our local groups get to do a lot on their own and they have a lot of their own independence.

  • 12:19:37

    NNAMDIYou are also involved in the National Fridays for Future Instagram account. Can I say you manage that account, or do you object to the term managing, also? (laugh)

  • 12:19:45

    GEIGERI do, yes.

  • 12:19:48

    BENSONYes, she does. (laugh)

  • 12:19:50

    NNAMDIHow do you use social media as a tool for organizing?

  • 12:19:52

    GEIGERYeah-no, I think it's really amazing, like, the amount of support that we get and honestly, the limited amount of trolls that we get on our Instagram account. I would like to thank all of our Instagram followers for being very respectful. And if you're not following us, you should definitely go follow us. Sorry for the plug. (laugh) But, yeah...

  • 12:20:11

    BENSONIt's FridaysForFuture.USA.

  • 12:20:13

    GEIGERNo, FridaysForFutureUSA, all one word.

  • 12:20:16

    BENSONOh, I'm sorry.

  • 12:20:17

    GEIGERAnd we also have Facebook for the older folks out there. We still love you. (laugh)

  • 12:20:21

    NNAMDIKhadija, part of the climate justice movement that you're passionate about is fighting environmental racism. Can you explain in your view how race and the environment are linked?

  • 12:20:31

    KHOKHARSo, I think it's undeniable that people of color are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change. And I think that when we talk about climate change, a lot of people, especially in America, like to alienate themselves and see that this isn't marginalized communities, but not in America, and not in our own backyard.

  • 12:20:48

    KHOKHARBut if you look at D.C. right here, for example, all of, like, our trash is taken across the Anacostia River to landfills that are systematically placed in communities of color, which causes, like, terrible air pollution. And according the EPA, black Americans are three times more likely to die from air pollution than their white counterparts. And I don't think that these are things that are talked about enough.

  • 12:21:12

    KHOKHARAnd I think that when we talk about this movement, we need to acknowledge the people who have been fighting this fight for so much longer. This movement has been around for about a year, but people have been fighting this. People of color around the world have been fighting for climate justice against environmental racism for decades and even centuries.

  • 12:21:29

    NNAMDIIt seems like young climate activists embrace the intersectionality of the movement, especially with emphasizing the rights of indigenous peoples. What more do you think can be done to uplift the voices of people of color?

  • 12:21:42

    KHOKHARI think that it's such a privilege that we have this platform that we have. And this movement has grown so quickly around the world that we need to use that platform and the privilege in order to elevate those voices of people on the frontlines and communities who have been fighting this and have more experience and have a diverse perspective on the climate crisis, because we can't let this be a one-perspective, like a whitewashed view of the crisis. Because although we're -- we're concerned about the future. So many people are fighting for their right for today and tomorrow and in order to live safely in their home for the next month and the next year.

  • 12:22:18

    NNAMDIIsabelle sent us a message to say, what can we do locally? Make composting cheaper, make solar cheaper, make recycling better and make biking safe? Just a couple of small things that would empower people to make a difference. Also, when and where is this strike in D.C. on Friday?

  • 12:22:34

    GEIGERWell, the strike in D.C. is from John Marshall Park, and then we are marching to the Capitol. We start at the park at 11:00 a.m., and then we'll end around 2:00. And then in the local thing, I would like to say that, you know, it's really not about placing the blame on anyone individual. Yes, we want to all reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible, but it's not we're in this crisis because some people didn't recycle their milk bottle in the morning. We're in this crisis because of a systematic issue, and the change that we have to make has to be systematic. And that's why I think that it's really important that individual action is, you know, focused towards the system, and not just in your home or in your backyard.

  • 12:23:09

    KHOKHARWhich is not saying don't make the changes in your home and your backyard. It does create a difference, but the emphasis needs to be on systematic issues and the fact that the United States is emitting so much carbon dioxide.

  • 12:23:23

    NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break, but we'll be right back. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:23:45

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with young people who are leading the charge in D.C.'s climate strike. We're talking with Khadija Khokhar. She's an organizer with Fridays for Future, as is Sophia Geiger and Kallan Benson. And taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Sophia, you're a student at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, and you and fellow students at Blair High School have organized a class walkout to join the global climate strike in D.C. this Friday. You even issued a press release that our newsroom received. How have school administrators responded to your activism? Could a walkout like this get you into trouble?

  • 12:24:21

    GEIGERPersonally, I had a meeting with my administrator just yesterday, I believe. And they are, you know, incredibly supportive, as much as they can be. Obviously, public schools can't really take a side on something, you know, as political as the issue of science facts. (laugh) But, you know, in the limitations that they have, they have been really supportive. And they're like, we're not going to block you from leaving the school premises. We want to support your right to protest. We're going to make sure that you can make up any work that you miss. And although it's not like an official excused absence, you know, it's not, like, going to count towards your record of, like, failing a class if you miss so many classes.

  • 12:25:00

    NNAMDIYou're not only activists, you're also students. How do you balance school and other things like your social life and, well, sleep, (laugh) with activism? How do you do it all?

  • 12:25:09

    KHOKHARIt's really hard. So, I am a freshman at the George Washington University. I moved here exactly a month ago and I immediately joined in on the local chapters here. I did have experience with climate activism in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So, I joined in, and you have to give or take. You can't do everything at once. You can't have all the sleep, all the social life, be successful in school and manage activism. So, you have to sacrifice some things and then realize what you're most passionate for.

  • 12:25:44

    KHOKHARFor example, activism does take away a lot of my social life. Yesterday was, like, the first day that I went out to eat with my friends, just, like, the four of us. And it was really nice, and it was a nice break that I needed from, like, the exhausting week that is coming and that we've been building up to.

  • 12:26:06

    NNAMDICan activism improve your social life?

  • 12:26:08

    KHOKHAROh, definitely, definitely. I mean, you know, making friends, like, is always hard for teenagers. I have lots and lots of good friends, but I feel like the ones in the climate movement are, you know, really some of my best friends because we bond over this shared anxiety and outrage and commitment to this passion that we have.

  • 12:26:24

    KHOKHARThat's not to say, you know, a lot of people think that we do what we do because it's fun or because it's, like, a hobby or something. But no, it really is -- for us, it's really work. It is, you know, something that takes time out of the things that we would like to be doing with our lives. But I choose to do this because, you know, I want the people in the next generation to not have to make that decision that I'm having to make and be able to have, like, their social lives.

  • 12:26:48

    NNAMDIKallan, you're homeschooled. How does it work for you?

  • 12:26:50

    BENSONI don't think I quite have a balance. My balance is everything becomes climate activism. (laugh) I mean, my social life is completely wrapped up into this movement with my friends. I mean, I think Sophia and Khadija and some of the other kids here in D.C. are probably my closest friends, geographically. And then the rest of them are not even on the same continent.

  • 12:27:18

    BENSONSo, it's definitely an interesting experience, but it's not -- I mean, I still do my academics with my parents. And then I play my cello, which I still use for -- I mean, I have played protest songs on it, so everything becomes climate activism. (laugh)

  • 12:27:38

    NNAMDIWell, you might have some advice for Will's daughter. Will emails, when there was a rising movement for gun control by high school students, I strongly encouraged my daughter to leave school along with many of her classmates to join a student march at Montgomery Blair High School. But she gave me some lame excuse about the importance of education. Now, she's gone off to an elite liberal arts college. How can I convince her to ditch classes occasionally and join with her classmates for an important cause?

  • 12:28:04

    BENSONSo, I think one of these things is, like, this has to come from within. You have to realize the severity of this problem, the crisis, and you have to take action yourself. You need to -- like, I think that the youth especially needs to open their eyes and realize that this is going to affect your future. We have 12 years until the effects of climate change are...

  • 12:28:27

    GEIGEREleven.

  • 12:28:28

    BENSON...eleven years until the effects of climate change are reversible. I won't even be 30 by then. I want to have a future that's livable, and I want to be able to have children and have a successful future. And also, on the behalf of education, education's important, but, I mean, like what Greta said, if you're not listening to those who are educated, then what's the point of getting an education?

  • 12:28:52

    BENSONAnd if something gets important, you know...

  • 12:28:55

    GEIGERWell, it's wonderful that you're trying to get your daughter involved, but I think -- I mean, we as youth strongly believe that we really shouldn't -- this should not be our responsibility. We shouldn't have to be doing this. So, I think it's wonderful that you're trying to get your daughter involved in the movement and have her -- I mean, we have lots and lots of friends (laugh) at Montgomery Blair who are very involved. But, at the same time, I would urge you to try and lead by example and get involved as much as you can. I mean, that shows your daughter that you're leading, and it also shows her how she can get involved.

  • 12:29:30

    NNAMDIWant a challenge? Here's Jeff, in Florida. Jeff, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:29:35

    JEFFI appreciate you. Thank you for taking my call, and I appreciate you young people. But what I have to say to you is, this is not climate change. This is not (word?) climate change. I believe that this planet goes through changes as it goes on. This is a natural progression of what the planet goes through. Now, I do agree that humans had something to do with this, but I don't think that they have everything to do with this. Do I need to take your comments off the air, or would you like to ask me questions?

  • 12:30:17

    NNAMDINo, I don't think they want to ask you questions. I think they may want to provide some answers to the issues that you've posed. I'll start with you, Sophia.

  • 12:30:25

    GEIGERYeah, so I mean, I think having conversations with people who don't have the exact same views as me is really important. And one thing I like to try to do in having those conversations is, you know, find the common ground that we have. And I think, for one, I can agree with you on one point. This is not climate change. This is a climate crisis and this is a climate emergency and this is a climate breakdown. And using the very specific language is important to -- it's important to define the situation that we're in, because we cannot fix it if we do not define it.

  • 12:30:55

    GEIGERAnd then the other thing that I would have to say is, you know, what if? What if this is not true progression of the planet? What if we switched to renewable energy? What if we make a better life for so many people on this planet, and there's no human-made climate crisis? What if? But I will tell you there is a human-made climate crisis because the scientists say so. But I really don't think that there's a downside to taking action for social justice for everybody. Also, what's the harm in wanting the best for your planet?

  • 12:31:27

    NNAMDIOn the other hand, here's Terri, in Silver Spring. Terri, your turn.

  • 12:31:32

    TERRIOh, I don't know if I can do this without crying, but I'm 81 years old. I've been active in environmental and climate change issues for many years and feel like I've been beating my head against a stone wall, have just about given up. You young people give me hope and courage, and I thank you. You're beautiful. Keep it up.

  • 12:32:01

    GEIGERYou're going to make us cry, too.

  • 12:32:05

    NNAMDITerri, crying is definitely allowed on this broadcast, so it's not a problem at all. Thank you very much for your call. Kallan, you've done quite a bit of climate activism independent of Fridays for Future. Earlier this year you protested during Maryland's legislative entire session, the entire session of the Maryland legislature. Tell us about that protest.

  • 12:32:25

    BENSONYeah, so that actually was still a Fridays for Future strike, as at that point, there were, what was it, six, 10 strikes in the United States? I decided -- so I went and struck for two weeks. And then I decided -- I went a little insane and decided, well, I really want to see action at the state-level. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to sit outside the state house and I'm not going to talk for 90 days. I know it's hard to believe since I'm chatting so willingly. (laugh)

  • 12:32:59

    BENSONBut I didn't speak for 90 days. And my feeling was that adults aren't listening, so why should I be speaking? And it's kind of a creative way to still put out your voice and put out your message, but make it a little bit more interesting to people. And it was certainly an interesting protest. I was specifically working to try and get the Maryland Healthy Green amendment passed. That bill, unfortunately, did not pass this year, but we did pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which was pretty incredible. And I am very happy to be speaking again. (laugh)

  • 12:33:44

    NNAMDIWe're almost out of time. If D.C. area youth or adult allies want to come join the D.C. climate strike on Friday, where should they go, what time should they get there and what social media hashtag should they use?

  • 12:33:57

    BENSONSo, the strike is -- we are starting at John Marshall Park at 11:00 a.m., and then we strike to the Capitol by 2:00 p.m. And also if you are not able to make the D.C. strike, go to www.strikewithus.org or FridaysForFuture.org and find a strike near you to be a part of this global movement on September 20th.

  • 12:34:19

    GEIGERAnd be sure to tag us in your Instagram posts. You can tag FridayForFutureUSA, or hashtag #climatestrike, hashtag #FridaysForFuture, hashtag #strikewithus. Personally, as the FridaysForFutureUSA Instagram person, I want to see your posts so I can repost them on our story. I love every single one of the strikers out there.

  • 12:34:37

    NNAMDIThere's another climate protest on Monday, September 23rd, Black Lives Matter DMV, Code Pink, other activist groups coming together to block key intersections around the city. Are any of you planning to join that protest?

  • 12:34:47

    GEIGERI cannot wait. I'm so excited. It's going to be really great. I've seen even articles about it so far, and I've heard people saying that they're not going to go into work just because the city's going to be blockaded.

  • 12:34:58

    NNAMDISophia Geiger, Kallan Benson and Khadija Khokhar, all organizers with Fridays for Future. Thank you all for joining us. Good luck to you. Today's show was produced by Cydney Grannan. Coming up tomorrow, when was the last time you had a substantial conversation about climate change in your own life? Our covering Climate Now coverage wraps up with a look at how we communicate -- or don't -- about this pressing issue and the effect that it has on our families, our communities and our mental health. That all starts tomorrow, at noon. Until then, thank you for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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