Last Friday, PLOS CEO Alison Mudditt published a letter declaring that PLOS supports the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019. She wrote, “Their global call to action is meant to apply pressure on policymakers and drive change as world leaders gather on September 23rd at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Thousands of scientists worldwide have signed letters endorsing the climate strikes, and we stand with them. We are giving all PLOS staff the opportunity to take the day and march to raise their voice for change.”
The Global Climate Strike is the latest outcome of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s call for school strikes. Her #FridaysforFuture movement encouraged children to strike, skip school, or organize protests to call attention to climate destruction. They write “why study for a future, which might not be there? Why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?” Some in our broader community of academia have already offered public support for the school strikes; The Guardian published an open letter signed by 224 academics in February 2019. Friday’s Global Climate Strike asks all adults to stand in solidarity with the young activists and #FridaysforFuture movement.
When I was around Greta’s age, climate change was already in the news and on my mind. But unlike today, we had time then to arrest the problem, bend the upward curve our emissions were on, and avert really dangerous changes and impacts. And unlike Greta and today’s young climate activists, I had great confidence that we would do it. Anything else would be insane, disastrous, unthinkable. But here we are, several decades later.
My experience echoes Spanger-Siegfried’s — I believed the adults would take care of things. I never thought that the future I was studying for would not be there, even as I started a PhD tracking the ecological effects of climate change on plant communities. This is, I think, a weird disconnect in retrospect. I am old enough to have grown up with climate optimism, but young enough to have never asked myself, When did you realize you work on climate change? because the answer was obvious.
PLOS and The Union of Concerned Scientists represent the growing assembly of adults standing with #ClimateStrike. PLOS CEO Alison Mudditt’s letter references PLOS-published climate change research — this publicly accessible repository of climate change knowledge stands as a symbol for how much we know about climate change. Our soapbox of research is needed on Friday. As ecologists, we can stand next to Greta and her generation. We spent a lot of effort to become educated and to fill PLOS with our research papers, now let’s spend the effort to be heard and to make space for the #ClimateStrike generation to join us in the field and in the lab in the future.
Read more (&more!) climate change in the media from this week’s global journalism initiative Covering Climate Now.
Banner image: Gustave Deghilage, Creative Commons