SANTA FE – About 300 students, mostly from the Santa Fe area, joined hundreds of thousands from around the world in demonstrations against climate change Friday, with a rally on the city’s historic Plaza and march to the state Capitol, where they hoped to catch the ear of lawmakers on the second-to-last day of the legislative session.
The student-led event was labeled the Youth Climate Strike in most places in America, but demonstrations were held under other names in different places around the globe.
All of them were inspired by Fridays for Future climate movement, which began with Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl who last year started skipping school on Fridays to protest outside Sweden’s parliament building, demanding that her country abide by the Paris Agreement and reduce carbon emissions.
Hannah Laga Abram organized the event in Santa Fe. She and others decided to organize after being inspired by the large number of young people who a year ago attended a March for Our Lives event, a rally that was part of a nationwide movement calling for stronger school safety and gun violence prevention laws.
“Students just came together serendipitously and said, ‘Look what we can do.’ And there are so many state issues that need attention,” Laga Abram said.
She said students from Mandela International Magnet School, the New Mexico School for the Arts, Desert Academy and other Santa Fe schools, as well as students from Albuquerque, Los Alamos and Las Vegas, N.M., were among those attending the event.
Speakers in the Capitol rotunda included Kimberly Smith of New Energy Economy and a member of the Navajo Nation, who spoke of the effects mining and gas and oil production in New Mexico have had on her people and about the Native perspective of people being one with nature.
Several fourth- and fifth-graders from Santa Fe’s Acequia Madre Elementary School who are a part of the Global Warming Express also spoke.
One, who introduced herself as Lori, said humans are ruining the environment.
“This is not OK,” she said. “It’s not like we can trash this planet and move to Mars.”
Emily Christopher, a 10-year-old home-schooled student from Albuquerque who is also a member of the Global Warming Express, penned a letter that the Express then delivered to the offices of all 112 legislators.
“It explained why we came and what we want them to do keep from destroying the planet,” she said.
Although young people made up the majority of the crowd, adults came out to support the kids.
“It’s important to support the young people; it’s their world,” said John Thayer of Mora. “Us older people in the sunset movement have to support the sunrise movement.”