On April 23, the youth-led environmental organization, Fridays For Future, gathered on the corner of Nees and Blackstone for their Earth Day strike as they continue to fight climate justice and demonstrate their desire and demand for change.
This strike was focused on the oil crisis of excessive drilling by oil companies, especially ExxonMobil and Chevron. The process of drilling creates a damaging effect on the earth and to the health of humans worldwide. It is known that drilling releases carbon dioxide and methane which reaches into the atmosphere and causes global warming, a rise in sea levels, natural disasters, asthma, and allergies.
In regards to this drilling, politicians promised change but have yet to comply. In fact, Governor Gavin Newsom announced his approval of 800 new drilling oil permits instead of creating limitations.
During this strike, the organization set up a physical and visual demonstration of the effects of oil drilling. A few members kneeled down with their heads down, holding hands as one. As fake crude oil was poured onto each individual’s head, they would fall forward as a symbolism of death. Once all five members had collapsed from this oil spill, there was a moment of silence to signify the emotional hardship caused by oil drilling.
Valeria Ramirez, 16, explained how important it is that the community understands the seriousness of this issue. She explained that the Central Valley contains the worst air pollution within the United States because it contains 95% of federal oil drilling. She also elaborated on statistics within the San Joaquin Valley stating that 20% of adults have asthma and 1 in 6 children suffer from the same condition.
“We are at the frontlines of this crisis,” said 17-year-old Elizabeth Fourchy. “Because we are in the Central Valley, we feel the negative effects of poor air much more than most, and we have a huge farming community to take care of with water resources.”
For these teenagers, these strikes hold value in the hopes of changing the world one interaction at a time.
Ramirez stated, “We hope that the strike has inspired youth to use their voices and realize that our future is at stake. Every voice and action, no matter how big or small, matters because we are stronger together, and we can only bring change if we are united.”
They understand that their opinions are important and their actions do create a chain of change for a better future. Fourchy said, “I don’t want to be another generation to shrug off the responsibility of creating a society that can sustain itself without depleting the earth of its resources.”
Ramirez agreed. “Our generation is tired of all the empty promises made by adults in power. We want real action, so if no one is going to do anything about it, we will.”
It may be challenging to know how to get involved in advocating for justice for climate change but there are many resources and actions that can be impactful.
Fourchy stated, “We are significant, and there is no action too small in combating climate change. Simply educating yourself is a step in the right direction. Don’t sit back and watch the world burn around the next generation; rather, be a part of the movement that rebuilds our world in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way.”
“I want the community to know that your voice matters and every action you make can leave an impact,” Ramirez said. “It may be taking shorter showers, riding your bike to school or work, composting, driving an electric car, or donating money towards environmental causes. No matter the action, you are leaving a significant impact on this world because it all adds up in the long run.”
If you are interested in joining the fight for justice for climate change or would like to learn more, follow @fridaysforfuture.fresno on Instagram.