By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 20, 2019
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Valdosta community put their feet in the streets Friday to make a change, taking part in the Global Climate Strike.
The world-wide event was organized to raise awareness of the climate crisis ahead of the UN's Emergency Climate Summit happening next week.
Crowds in the near triple digits gathered at Drexel Park Friday to participate. Many people said the protest is about more than demanding action against climate change. It's about showing young people that they can make a difference.
"We're united in this, this is all our planet. We want to make it heard that we all care about this," said Autumn Wibright, Valdosta State University student and member of Students Against Violating the Environment (SAVE). "We're here planning out future, planning what we want to do with our lives, and now all we can think about is where are we going to have our future, how is it going to be, what's the quality of our life going to be in the future if this continues to happen."
The group, along with crowds around the world, are pushing for more political action and regulations that promote environmental sustainability, things like clean and renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.
Environmental experts say we're facing a mass extinction of species, and without a change we face food insecurities, rising sea water levels and extreme weather events, all of which could put lives at risk.
Many protesters say it's up to young people to take the lead.
"I really want to see young people, in particular, get involved in addressing this issue and asking their elders, people of my generation, to be accountable, to follow their heart and the real science," said VSU Philosophy Professor Ari Santas.
As the climate strike makes waves across the world, many are proud to see action happening in Valdosta, saying change can start from anywhere and any community.
"It makes me feel hopeful, I think it's inevitable, though," Santas said. "Climate is one of the things that we are all affected by, and sooner or later it's going to create a larger and larger groundswell of activity."
Many students said once the strike is over, they hope young people can keep the energy going, knowing they're not alone, and continue standing up for the planet.
The Climate Action Summit will take place Monday. Organizers of the Global Climate Strike expect to host another rally next week.
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