Greta Thunberg speaks at Iowa City climate strike

The 16-year-old activist joined City High students to protest global warming.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg visited Iowa City on Oct. 4 to join strikers from Iowa City High. The group led a crowd of about 3,000 in chants urging political leaders to enact policy that will end climate change. It also included 11 minutes of seated silence, representative of the 11 year window left to stop irreversible harm to earth.

Originally, a group of City High students formed an activist group, skipping part of school every Friday to stand in front of the school district office to demand climate action.

According to one of the group leaders, Shoshie Hemley ’21, some days there were as little as four members. For her, it is imperative that people continue to show up to these demonstrations.

“Climate change is not only about the sacrifices we’ve already made,” Hemley said in her speech. “It’s also about the sacrifices we must make.”

Almost a year later, Thunberg, who inspired it all, joined the local protest, and gave a speech that rallied the crowd.

‘We teenagers and children shouldn’t have to take the responsibility,” Thunberg said in her speech. “But right now the world leaders keep acting like children, and somebody needs to be the adult in the room.”

Other community organizations such as 100 Grannies for a Livable Future also joined in. For 76-year old member Miriam Kashi, It was inspiring to see young Thunberg leading such an influential movement.

“It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes from the Dhali Lama. ‘If you think one person can’t make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito,’” Kashi said. “[Thunberg] is a pretty powerful mosquito.”

Another member of their group, Deb Scholerman, added on, saying, “The other question is, ‘if not me, who?'”

If you think one person can’t make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. [Thunberg] is a pretty powerful mosquito.

— Miriam Kashi

The strike, however, was met with some online backlash. One Waterloo West High School teacher, Matt Baish, posted a comment on a Facebook announcement of the event referencing a sniper rifle. While Baish was put on leave, the comment caused some distress amongst demonstrators.

According to group leaders however, they will continue to demonstrate until change is enacted.