As the environmental emergency continues to worsen, more and more people are standing up and demanding ecological justice—both domestically and internationally. And with last month’s global climate strike, it is getting harder for lawmakers to ignore the collective minority and their call for better environmental policies. With over four million demonstrators protesting for the ecological crisis worldwide, the fight for massive radical change is growing rapidly, with many rallies happening right here in St. Louis.
On Sept. 20, hundreds of St. Louisans participated in the global strike for climate justice. Protestors gathered right outside of St. Louis City Hall before they marched through the streets to show their frustrations and demands for the ecological crisis. “I’m glad there was a strike in St. Louis,” Robin Orgar-Bailey said, a local resident who attended the protest. “I’m from New York, and sometimes it feels like the Midwest ignores global issues. I’m participating because the environment has been an issue my whole life, and it’s getting worse, not better. And so I strike for those who can’t take time off work or school, or don’t have the luxury of travelling to a city to strike.” With more than 10 public speakers demonstrating their desire for environmental equity, St. Louis was one out of hundreds of U.S. cities to participate in the international protest—shining a light on the comprehensive climate issue and pushing towards radical ecological action locally.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Friday morning, St. Louis demonstrators expressed several demands to Missouri lawmakers in relation to climate change. The first demand was better environmental policies, both nationally and regionally. Claire Stolze, a senior at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy high school, argued for “policies that incorporate both racial injustice and its correlation to environmental injustice.” Other speakers focused on ways citizens can implement more sustainable habits into their daily lives. Jenn DeRose, Known & Grown Manager at Missouri Coalition for the Environment, spoke on behalf of the Known & Grown program to express the importance of buying meat and produce locally. “By buying from local Known & Grown farmers in your area, you will reduce your overall carbon impact and support more environmentally friendly practices,” DeRose said. Local farmers in St. Louis who partner with the program must adhere to certain sustainable farming habits.
The impact that the climate strike had internationally was massive. Over 160 countries participated, with many demonstrations continuing throughout the course of that week. Hundreds of Google and Amazon workers walked out on their jobs that Friday to strike, with the hopes that both companies would put an end to all computing contracts with the fossil fuel industry. “We have to address a lot of dealings that we have with oil and gas companies and the funding that goes into the lobbying groups that support climate denial,” Cat Han said, a software developer at Amazon who came out to support the strike. Activists pressured their governments on local issues in their area, with St. Louis protestors advocating for the shutdown of the Peabody Corporate Headquarters, a local energy and coal company in the city.
With more than 5,000 climate strikes across the globe that day, people around the world are beginning to stand up to legislators and demand that the ecological emergency is taken seriously. By raising awareness internationally and recognizing that the climate crisis is not only an environmental issue, but an ethical obligation, protestors hope that the recent demonstrations illustrate the importance of global unity and working towards a brighter future. A future that values the importance of the ecosystem and its significance to everything that is, and everything that will be—from St. Louis and beyond.