Student, youth voices are key component in solving climate issues


Graphic by Isabella Kneeshaw.

Tullia Salboro, Staff Writer

Last week was the Portland Youth Climate Strike, a protest organized by a group of young people who do persistent work toward the intersectional fight for climate justice. 

Generation Z is becoming more and more aware of the impending consequences of the surrounding climate crises. An example of this is the current influx of news surrounding the approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project by the Biden administration. This project will produce an estimated 260 million metric tons of heat-trapping gasses over the next 30 years, according to Whatever emotion this inspires in you, whether it’s rage or nothing at all, scientists agree that there is reason to worry about these damaging practices on our planet.

 The Portland Youth Climate Strike (PYCS) puts together various events, and last year in May was one of the organization’s annual strikes. These events are largely attended by a younger audience, and some thoughts on the demographic were shared by Jacob Glass, who is a co-leader of  PYCS. 

An issue we have in our society is that young people’s voices aren’t taken as seriously as adults’,” Glass said. “Students’ voices are essential on all topics, but especially ones like the climate crisis that will have the most significant impact on young people. It’s not enough for our voices to be heard; they also need to be valued and given an active space in decision-making processes. We may not be able to vote or run for office, but when we are united, we can push for major changes. This is why the idea behind youth climate strikes is so powerful because when we show that the climate is an issue so important to us we are willing to miss school for it, we send an important message.”

Hundreds of students missed school that day to act in solidarity with and spread the word to the community on a topic that is quickly affecting our futures. Nicolas Sammond, a senior, went to the May Climate Strike and shared his point of view as well as some emotions that were struck by the event. 

One of the most vivid memories I have of the climate strike is definitely from the beginning when a big group really started to form. Not only was it incredibly gratifying to see all our hard work pay off, but it was really inspiring to know that our message resonated with such a big group of young people. I remember seeing three Max trains and a few buses come to the stop about a block from City Hall, and all of them being completely full of students. I also remember the amount of people on the sidewalks and even from buildings stopping what they were doing just to watch us and listen,” Sammond said.

Taking actions like this can cause an endless variety of emotions like stress, anger, hope, anxiety or joy. Finding a comforting group of people who will support your beliefs and passions and who also want to fight for those causes is important so that you can share words of encouragement with one another and work toward these fights together. Amanda Jiricek, a 2022 Tualatin graduate, shared her source of inspiration to strike.

“Hearing about the environmental impacts around the world in the media and talking about these issues with my friends urged me to take a stand. Knowing what future generations would have to go through if we didn’t take a stand was a large motivating factor,” Jiricek said. 

If strikes aren’t your thing, or maybe you just weren’t able to make it on April 21, seek out other opportunities and resources to learn more about taking action in the areas of climate justice. This recent decision by the federal government to allow such drastic pollution on our planet should raise some eyebrows, activists say.  It  may seem like the problem is so much bigger than just one person, but it’s the groups and teamwork our generation is using to bring attention to this very real threat to our future that will be the driving force for positive change.