Why I am striking from school

Sasha King-Smith is a young Quaker taking part in the growing #YouthStrike4Climate movement.

Schoolchildren on strike in Sheffield city centre in February. Photo: Flickr/Socialist Appeal

On Friday 15 February 2019, 10,000 British schoolchildren joined the global Youth 4 Climate School Strike. It is thought to be the biggest school strike in British history and it got lots of media attention. We were following the actions of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmental activist who has been on strike from school every Friday since August 2018.

An urgent action

Whilst I thoroughly value my education there is no reason in having it if we don't have a future to be educated for. For many years now, I have wanted to be an environmental lawyer because I thought that that could be my way of protecting our planet, but I can't wait until then because there is not enough time. We must do something now and simply learning about the environment is not enough.

We need to take radical action because in the last thirty years we have hardly made an impact. It is estimated that 10,000 species go extinct a year. That's one every five minutes. This is not natural. This is, at the most conservative estimate, 1000 times more than historical averages.

Protesting, like we did, is one of the best ways to get government attention. It is shown in history with the suffragette movement, the civil rights movement in the USA, and the LGBT Pride movement. Now that there is something endangering the lives of everybody on earth, we must act now!

We can't vote, so if we want to do something we have to protest and strike.

Big picture, big movement

The size of February's walk-out shows that we are able to do something big. Currently our government is distracted, focused on Brexit, though there are far more important things to do. One of my biggest worries for when we leave the EU is the loss of their environmental protection laws. Protecting the environment must be at the front of UK lawmakers' minds. By striking we are making sure the issue can't be ignored.

Our strike was part of a far greater movement. There have been strikes across the globe. It started with Greta in Sweden and is now spreading across Europe, Australia and the United States. Run completely by people under the age of 18, there are arrangements for more strikes to happen to increase the pressure and the urgency. We go on strike for a second time on Friday 15 March. Find out more here.

At this point, academics across the country - including several from University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University - support the movement. Even the Headteachers Union supports it. The next step for teachers will involve meeting with the Department of Education, calling for a truthful climate curriculum within schools.

There is no time left to wait for the government to act, we need to do something now. That means continuing to strike.

If you uphold what Sasha and her fellow strikers are doing, tweet your support on the #YouthStrike4Climate hashtag, or write a letter of support to those striking from school in your area.

Learn more about the UK branch of #YouthStrike4Climate