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Davis, California

Friday, July 19, 2024

Davis Senior High School students strike for climate change

Youth climate activists marched to Central Park on March 3 to raise awareness about climate change 


By ALEX UPTON  city@theaggie.org 

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On Friday, March 3 at 12:30 p.m., a group of Davis youth climate activists walked out of class and marched to Central Park in support of the Fridays for Future movement, a climate awareness group started in 2018 by environmental activist Greta Thunberg. The Davis chapter has been striking every week since 2019, according to one of the student speakers. 

Eliot Larson, a 16-year-old student at Davis Senior High School and the local coordinator of Fridays for Future Davis, began by reciting the number displayed on the climate clock. The climate clock displays how much time is left before climate change becomes irreversible according to one group of scientists. On March 3 at approximately 1 p.m., the clock read six years, 140 days, 19 hours and 20 minutes. Larson talked about the urgency of climate change and spoke to both the adults and youth in attendance, asking them to take action before it becomes too late. 

“It is not too late to hope, but it is too late to hope someone else will take action for you, because they are not,” Larson said. “This is your time.”

Larson gathered the younger activists in the audience into an open dialogue with Davis City Council members Gloria Partida and Bapu Vaitla. One student asked how to get more involved in the city’s conversation about climate change. 

“Show up, make public comments, say that these are our priorities, that really does get on the radar of city council,” Vaitla said. “The climate action plan is scheduled to be heard [next month] before council for final approval and it’s very important for folks to show up and state their priorities.”

In 2019, Davis Senior High School students submitted a letter to city council asking for youth voices at the decision-making table. They followed up with a letter last September and have yet to see any action taken. The students now implore the council to meet them halfway or at least recognize their efforts to be a part of the decision-making process. 

Gloria Partida has been attending the climate strikes since the first one in 2019. She said that she always encourages youth to be involved in issues that affect them and their community. 

“I think that this is part of their studies,” Partida said. “I think that in order for them to understand why they’re studying whatever it is they’re studying in their classes, there has to be a link how that happens in the real world and this is definitely an excellent example of that.” 

UC Davis student Sam Saxe-Taller joined the protest in support of the high schoolers. Saxe-Taller, a first-year sustainable agriculture and food systems major, talked about how he uses his position as an adult with voting privileges to support younger activists. 

“The threat of climate chaos is urgent and it matters to me to not just show up and demonstrate but to show up and demonstrate and support the folks who are organizing in high school and younger,” Saxe-Taller said. “Having been a younger activist in high school, I experienced both times where college students were powerful and effective in supporting my and our work, and times where they certainly sort of dominated and so it matters to me that we have a good relationship and support their work.”

People of all ages showed up to support the youth, including a group called the Raging Grannies. The Raging Grannies, an international group of senior activists, attend protests to sing songs about climate change. One member, retired school teacher Lynne Nittler, optimistically discussed the city of Davis’s efforts to combat climate change.

“[The city] tries hard and there’s always more to do,” Nittler said. “So we’ll just keep praising the efforts and encouraging more.” 

An Instagram page (@climatestrikedavis) was created in 2019 for the Davis Chapter of Fridays for Future and recently celebrated week 176 on the climate strike. The page is used to announce protests, spread awareness and communicate with other young activists. 

Written by: Alex Upton — city@theaggie.org