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12 Gen Zers who skipped school to march across New York for the Global Climate Strike share why this is the most urgent issue of their generation

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 24 Sep 2019

An estimated 250,000 demonstrators gathered at Manhattan's Foley Square on Friday for the Global Climate Strikeand most of them were Gen Zers.The catalyst for the march, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, has become an inspiration for the young generation passionate about climate change.Business Insider spoke with Gen Z demonstrators at the strike to find out what they had to say about the demonstration, Thunberg, and the dangers of ignoring climate change.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Young people around the world are on strike.An estimated 250,000 demonstrators gathered at Foley Square in Manhattan on Friday as part of the Global Climate Strike. New York is just one of hundreds of cities in 156 countries and regions (including Antarctica) with thousands of protesters filling the streets. For the most part, they've all been students.New York's Education Department let students skip class to join the ranks in the march, which began at 12:30 pm, making its way down Broadway toward Battery Park. Despite students getting the city's permission to attend the strike, teachers were barred from it to avoid political influence in the classroom.One of the main reasons Gen Zers are passionate about climate change is Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who gained worldwide attention after skipping school to protest in front of Stockholm's parliament building last year. Since then, she has met with former President Barack Obama, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to lower her carbon footprint, and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.Here's what Gen Zers had to say about the strike, Thunberg, and the dangers of ignoring climate change.SEE ALSO:The most creative signs from New York's Global Climate Strike have one message in common: Time's running outSophie, a 19-year-old, said that Greta Thunberg is an inspiration for her."I'm really passionate about helping the environment, and it's something that needs to happen," Sophie told Business Insider. "We've gone so long with just people not doing anything about it, and it's time."Sophie also talked about what Thunberg means to her. "I'm so excited. She's so inspiring. She is a symbol of everythingshe's inspiring to young women. She's what we need right now."Estella and Bella, who go to the Chapin School in the Upper East Side, were also fans of Thunberg."She's really just such an inspiration, and I just really want to help save the Earth," Estella said. "I think that she has such a platform to help spread that.""She doesn't care what [people] think. She's ready to tell them what they need to hear," said Bella.Two seventh graders, Barrett and Isabella, liked the way Thunberg stressed the importance of listening to scientists about climate change."Everyone on this planet, if they want to keep it, has to make a difference," Barrett (pictured left) said. "We can't vote yet, we can't really do much because we're young, so this is our way to do something.""Everyone has made a big mistake wasting plastic, cutting down so many trees, and ruining the Earth at this point," Isabella (pictured right) said. "We're trying to make our change."Isabella and Barrett spoke about why they support Thunberg's activism."I think she means courage and strength," Isabella said. "She's just such an inspirational girl.""She's so brave," Barrett said. "It shows that age doesn't matter with what you can do."These students from Sarah Lawrence College said some of their professors encouraged them to march."It's just a small thing that we can do to show how much we want to support the environment," Hannah Simone (pictured center) said. "Because if we didn't show up, what's gonna happen is we're just gonna sit at home doing nothing versus getting out into the world and actually speaking up.""I didn't have class today, but my teachers told me no matter what you should go," Monique (pictured right) said. "They're very supportive."Abby, 23, brought her younger sister to the strike."There's really no excuse to not take care of the environment," Abby said. "A gathering like this shows the people who might not be thinking about it, but they should be."Mike, a sophomore at Hunter College High School in the Upper East Side, said his school was "very accepting" of students skipping class to march."This is our future," Mike said. "The planet's in danger because humans have been destroying it. We need to do something about it and band together."Fourth graders Maisie and Nina came to the march with their parents."We're here to protest against climate change!" Nina said."And change the world!" Maisie added.
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