Iowa City students and residents join global climate strike

Tyler Chalfant | September 23rd, 2019

Reporting by Julia Poska

Four million students and activists around the world protested for action on climate change last Friday. Student-organizers from Iowa City schools led hundreds of strikers in demanding that the City and the University of Iowa create a Town-Gown Climate Accord to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030 and to end coal burning at the university’s power plant.

Students at Tate High marched out of class at 11 a.m., chanting “save the earth.” Later in the afternoon, the Iowa City Climate Strikers were joined by the groups 100 Grannies, the Sunrise Movement, the Sierra Club, and Young Democratic Socialists of America, along with students from the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Community. Together, they marched from City Hall to the University Pentacrest.

Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton said that it was “easily the biggest and most enthusiastic crowd” he’d ever seen in front of City Hall. Last month, Iowa City became the first city in the state to declare a climate crisis, and set carbon emissions targets in line with those set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “There’s many more actions that have to take place for us to accomplish the goals we’ve set for ourselves,” said Throgmorton. “We need public support for those actions.”

Students at the strike spoke of the urgency of the climate situation. “This is super important because basically if we don’t stop it, it’s the end of the world,” said Massimo Biggers, a high school freshman. “The world is basically burning right now, and we only have eleven years to save it.” Protesters emphasized the eleven year timeline when they staged a “die-in,” laying in silence on the Pentacrest, for eleven minutes.

Morgan Lenss, a junior at the University of Iowa, said that she joined the protest because she believes the environment should come before anything else. “We can’t wait anymore for major changes,” she said. “These need to be big changes, and they need to happen fast.” 

While many young people led the protest, some older community members showed up to support younger generations. Molly Stroh, a member of the group 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, commented, “We don’t want our grandkids to look at us and say ‘Where were you?’”

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