Student Voices from the San Diego Climate Walkout

by on September 23, 2019 · 2 comments

in Environment, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

Elea Castiglione and Ruben Dumka in the center

By Jim Miller

Last Friday – Sept.20 – , students in San Diego joined millions of people across the world and participated in the youth-led Global Climate Strike.  In the face of condescending calls from many adult “leaders” for gradualist political “realism” to address the threat of mass extinction, young people are standing up to demand solutions commensurate with the problem we face.

What stands out to me about the message these young people are delivering is how clearly they see what far too many of their elders fail to recognize: that the responsibility for the climate crisis does not just fall on “all of us” equally but is disproportionately being driven by the global elite.  Along with that, young people see that what we need is “systemic change” not incrementalism.  Their clear-eyed analysis and urgency should inspire us all to wake up and stop failing future generations with yet more political cowardice.

Below are two local voices from the Climate Strike, Elea Castiglione and Rubin Dumka, both sophomores at San Diego High School, who spoke at Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego last Friday, September 20th.

Students assemble at San Diego High School. Photos credit: Mica Pollock

Elea Castiglione, San Diego High School Sophomore, SDHS Climate Walkout organizer

Thank you all for being here and for being part of the global, youth-led call for action, the biggest day of climate action in our world’s history.

As we’ve seen here today and all over the world, students are tired of watching corporations, institutions, and our governments sit idly by while our planet burns. We deserve to grow up without the imminent and deadly threat of climate change looming in our future. We have grown up in the era of awareness but also the era of conscious in-action.

We have 11 years left to make a change before it is too late. This means that when I am 26, if we have not completely changed our ways, then my peers and I will be living on a planet with no hope. But the youth-led, global movement for climate justice gives me confidence that we can turn things around.

Students have shown that we have the power to shape the world we wish to live in. The UC system’s recent divestment from fossil fuels, a movement sparked by students, is evidence of this.

That is why we are marching. We are here to show anybody who stands in the way of climate justice that we have power and that we demand action, and we demand it now.

I plan on continuing to march, speak out and stand up for this planet for the next 11 years and every year that follows, I hope that together we can continue to call for immediate systemic change.

This is the point in time where we must decide which side of history we want to be on. By being here, you are choosing to be on the side that rebelled against the system that is abusing our planet. You are choosing to be on the side that stood up for our home, and you are choosing to be a part of the global fight for climate justice.

Ruben Dumka, San Diego High School Sophomore, SDHS Climate Walkout speaker

I would like to start this speech by addressing a common misconception. This is the idea that the world is dying. The world is not simply dying, it is being destroyed. The Amazon is not simply burning, it is being burned. We must recognize this fact for any further climate action, as the idea that this is an inevitable climate disaster is one that only serves the powerful.

The idea that you must recycle, you must use less water, and you must drive less is one that neglects the truth that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions. It neglects to acknowledge that the US spends more than $20 billion annually on subsidizing oil. It neglects the fact that the agribusiness industry spends over $130 million on lobbying annually while the oil and gas industries spend over $125 million annually.

Climate change is an undeniable fact, and to say otherwise would be willfully ignorant, yet there still are many politicians and others who remain unmoved, slowing climate legislation and refusing to admit the problem at hand. It is undeniable that we are facing a climate catastrophe, yet we face it with very little concern, staring down the barrel of a gun and wondering whether it will fire.

The global elite have no concern for the effects of climate change. The capitalists, the politicians, need not worry about the climate disaster at hand. While developing countries are feeling the effects of climate change firsthand, those in power choose to neglect this, as climate change will affect them last.

I would like to leave you with one takeaway. This is the idea that as soon as we convince ourselves of our superiority, we rationalize our oppression of others. Politicians will continue to support the destruction of the environment until we take control and break this vicious cycle.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie September 23, 2019 at 10:56 am
Frank Gormlie September 23, 2019 at 10:57 am

Of course, Congress was already in a state of gridlock thanks to Moscow Mitch.


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