Slideshow: At Youth Climate Strike in Boise, Students Call for Action 

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Harrison Berry

For Kaitlyn, a ninth grader at North Junior High School, the stakes could not be higher.

"I want to have kids and not have them grow up in the apocalypse," she said.

Kaitlyn was standing on the Idaho Statehouse steps minutes before the beginning of the Youth Climate Strike on March 15, and behind her was a building full of lawmakers, many of whom believe climate change is either a hoax, not driven by human behavior, or an inevitability. But before her were approximately 200 students who had left class to call for the rapid rollout of policies to combat global warming.

The strike was one of hundreds around the country—and the world—that took place on Friday. They're part of a global movement of youth who are concerned about the habitability of the planet and frustrated with lawmakers' failure or unwillingness to take action.

click to enlarge - Students from across the Treasure Valley participated in the strike on Friday. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Students from across the Treasure Valley participated in the strike on Friday.
"It's old, white men who are [expletive] things up," said Lukas, a ninth grader at North Junior High School. "Once we get into power, things are going to change, but until then, it's an uphill slope. ... We are the last line of defense."

Lydia, a sophomore at Boise High School, took a similar tone.

"I think it's just ignorance," she said about climate change-denying lawmakers, speculating about their motives for not subscribing to the scientific consensus behind human-driven climate change. "The only reason we're polluting our planet is, people are making money off that."

"There's no political argument for denying a future for everyone," said Shavonne, a Hillside Junior High School ninth grader.

The clock is ticking, other students said: Scientists largely agree that people could begin feeling the most severe effects of climate change in just over a decade, and many developed nations have signed on to agreements to limit fossil fuel emissions and transition to renewable energy sources like solar and wind. In the United States, some in Congress have gotten behind the Green New Deal, which would massively subsidize a renewable energy industry, reduce waste and limit the country's impact on the global climate.

High school and junior high school students, however, are too young to vote. Attendees at the strike said they will eventually come of age, but while they're young, their most powerful tools are their voices and willingness to get in front of lawmakers.

"The only way to create change is through direct action," said J.D., a junior at Boise High School. "You have to go out and do stuff yourself."

click to enlarge - Liam Neupert, 16, helped organize the Youth Climate Strike in Boise. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Liam Neupert, 16, helped organize the Youth Climate Strike in Boise.
Speaking from the podium, strike organizer and One Stone junior Liam Neupert, 16, described the severity of the issue as "being in a state of crisis," and outlined positions both personal and political for addressing it. Those included mundane changes like supporting local businesses, rejecting plastic straws and utensils, and being aware of opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle. They also included broader political actions, like continuing to protest in order to get the attention of lawmakers, limiting corporate carbon pollution and pivoting to renewables as a source of clean energy.

Neupert also addressed what he said was the inevitable criticism that they as students are inexperienced, ignorant or otherwise too young to be political actors, and that pressing for such profound changes to policy is "radical."

"Sometimes you have to be radical and loud to have your voice heard," he said.
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