A map of climate strikes planned by youth around the world for Friday, Mar. 15.
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A map of climate strikes planned by youth around the world for Friday, Mar. 15.

Frustrated by adult apathy, Seattle-area kids join global climate protest

Students in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham and Olympia plan to go on strike Friday to fight climate change, joining their peers in more than 100 countries.

"It just seems like no one's been taking this seriously when our futures are at stake," said Chelsea Li, a strike organizer and senior at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School.

Thousands of students in Europe and Australia have been striking weekly to demand an end to fossil fuel use.

It all began with a Swedish schoolgirl named Greta Thunberg, who started sitting in front of the Swedish parliament building last summer. She has since accumulated hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, given speeches to world leaders and been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

“What is the point of learning facts within the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of that same school system clearly mean nothing to our politicians and our society?” Thunberg said.

Li said she became concerned about climate change after an activist gave a presentation at her school.

“When I first heard the news, I didn’t know what to do or how to react because it’s such a big problem,” she said.

Li said she first focused on making little changes in her personal life to use less energy. But she said she noticed nobody else was doing much or even talking about the problem.

“For me, it was just kind of frustrating to see how it was such a dire issue, but no one was taking the steps or the action necessary,” she said.

So she became an activist.

The Tacoma strike is being led by Washington Elementary 5th grader Theo Sullivan (with help from his mom).

“I just don’t think it’s fair that you guys have a long and healthy life, and we have to clean up after your messes,” Theo, who is 11, told News Tribune columnist (and adult) Matt Driscoll.

Li said some of her fellow organizers are pretty pissed off about what their parents' generation has done to the planet they will inherit.

But Li’s message to older generations isn’t one of anger.

"I feel like that doesn't solve anything at this point," she said.

“We are the next generation, and we do care about this, and if you care about us, please help us solve this issue,” Li said.

The striking U.S. students are urging support for measures including the Green New Deal in Congress and an end to fossil fuel use in the next 11 years.

Seattle school officials said they support their students' rights to peacefully protest.

Seattle students plan to rally at Cal Anderson Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.

The Tacoma rally is at noon Friday at Wright Park.