Hundreds gather to march in Global Climate Strike

Protesters join millions worldwide to ‘disrupt business as usual’ to call for a clean energy revolution

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MIT students and Cambridge residents march to Boston as part of the Global Climate Strike Friday.

Hundreds of members of the MIT community participated in the Global Climate Strike Sept. 20. The group gathered in front of the Stratton Student Center and then marched into Boston to join the Boston Climate Strike.

Participants held signs reading “You Lie = I Die,” “Break free from fossil fuels,” “Climate Action Now,” and “Greta gets it,” referencing teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. After brief speeches by Catherine Wilka G and Brian Cleary PhD ’19, the protestors proceeded through campus to Kendall Square, taking the T to Boston City Hall to join the Boston Climate Strike. While on campus, the strikers chanted slogans such as “Climate change is not a lie. Do not let our planet die,” and “The sea is rising and so are we!”

This was one of hundreds of strikes worldwide, in over 150 countries. Strikers left school or work to protest the lack of sufficient action by governments and businesses to combat climate change.

The Global Climate Strike, which officially spans the week of Sept. 20 to Sept. 27, was created by a coalition of groups, nongovernmental organization, unions, and social movements, inspired by weekly strikes organized by students worldwide through the #FridaysForFuture platform.

The strike at MIT was organized by graduate students in climate-related sciences in the department of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences, Wilka, a PhD student in climate physics and chemistry, said in an interview with The Tech.

Wilka said, “About a month ago, a couple of students in EAPS and I tried to figure out what the campus was doing in support of the climate strike, because we thought it would be important for MIT to have a presence. ... It turned out that there wasn’t really one event being organized yet, so we did it ourselves.” Wilka said that the organizers also reached out to other departments and organizations to help plan the event.

One of the involved organizations was Science for People Boston. Cleary, fellow at the Broad Institute and member of Science for People, wrote in an email to The Tech that Science for People “determined that we could play a role in spreading the word about the strike within our groups and departments.”

Wilka said she became involved with the strike because her generation was the first generation to truly feel the impacts of climate change.

In his email, Cleary praised the grassroots nature of the strike, writing, “We cannot rely on our institutions — governments, corporations, and universities — to solve the problem. The real solutions must be driven by the people.”

Wilka said that she wanted to show “that scientists are not stuck in their ivory towers doing calculations, that we live in this world as well, that we understand the gravity of the situation that is facing us.” She said she believes that it is important for scientists to “stand behind the societal implications of the[ir] research.”

Wilka advised young people interested in taking action against climate change to stay politically involved, whether it be voting, contacting their legislators, or running for office. Wilka also advised people to stay cognizant of the challenges facing society when pursuing science.

Cleary wrote that the most important thing to keep in mind is that “many scientists hesitate to speak out on activist issues, as they feel this might somehow compromise the objectivity of the scientist. While it is true that the practice of science must be objective, we still must choose what science to do, and the science we choose to do has real consequences for real people.”

Edwin Song contributed reporting.