STANDARDS

NGSS: Core Idea: ESS3.C, ESS2.A

CCSS: Reading Informational Text: 6

TEKS: Science: 3.3B, 4.2D, 5.2A, 6.3B; ELA: 3.7C, 3.7G, 4.7C, 4.7G, 5.7C, 5.7G, 6.6C, 6.6D

Speaking Out for Earth

Kids around the world are demanding action on climate change

OLIVIA HARRIS/The New York Times/Reuters

Students in London, England, attend a protest on September 20, 2019, to demand that leaders address climate change.

September 20, 2019, was no ordinary weekday. Thousands of kids around the world took to the streets. They held signs with messages like “There’s no Planet B” and “If you don’t act like adults, we will.” 

These demonstrations, known as the Global Climate Strikes, drew an estimated 4 million people in more than 150 countries. Their goal was to bring attention to climate change. As Earth’s global temperature goes up, sea levels are rising and weather events are becoming more extreme. Protesting is one of many ways young people are raising their voices to protect the planet. 

Alexandria Villaseñor is a 14-year-old student who has been protesting every Friday for the past 16 months in New York City. She hopes world leaders are paying attention. “We will continue protesting until they listen to us,” she says.

September 20, 2019, was no ordinary weekday. Thousands of kids around the world took to the streets. They held signs with messages. Some read, “There’s no Planet B.” Others said, “If you don’t act like adults, we will.” 

These marches were known as the Global Climate Strikes. They were held in more than 150 countries. They drew about 4 million people. The strikes’ goal was to bring attention to climate change. Earth’s global temperature is heating up. That’s causing sea levels to rise. It’s causing weather to become more extreme. Young people are marching to protect the planet. It’s one of many ways they’re raising their voices. 

Alexandria Villaseñor is a 14-year-old student. She lives in New York City. She’s been protesting every Friday. She’s done so for the past 16 months. She hopes world leaders are paying attention. “We will continue protesting until they listen to us,” she says.

Warming Earth

Earth’s climate has changed before. There have been periods when the planet was covered in ice. Other times, it was much warmer. These changes usually happened over hundreds or thousands of years. Today, Earth is warming faster than ever.

Scientists say that human activities are largely to blame. We burn fossil fuels for energy in our cars, factories, and power plants. That releases greenhouse gases, which trap heat from the sun in Earth’s atmosphere (see The Greenhouse Effect, above). Since 1880, Earth’s average temperature has increased by about 1°C (1.8°F).

Earth’s climate has changed before. There have been periods when the planet was covered in ice. It was much warmer other times. These changes usually happened over hundreds or thousands of years. Today, Earth is warming faster than ever.

Scientists say human activities are largely to blame. We burn fossil fuels for energy. That powers our cars, factories, and power plants. But it also releases greenhouse gases. They trap heat from the sun in Earth’s atmosphere (see The Greenhouse Effect, above). Earth’s average temperature has gone up by about 1°C (1.8°F) since 1880.

SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images

Long periods of heat and little rain have triggered massive wildfires across Australia.

That may not sound like a lot, but it’s affecting the world in many ways. Warmer temperatures are melting ice at Earth’s poles. And as ocean water warms and expands, sea levels are rising. That’s causing more flooding in coastal areas. 

A warmer world is also making seasons less predictable and weather more extreme. Long periods of intense heat and little rain can destroy crops and dry up water sources. Hundreds of species of plants and animals are at risk of dying out if they can’t adapt to this changing world. 

“The impacts of climate change get worse with higher temperatures,” says Natalie Mahowald, a climate scientist at Cornell University.

That may not sound like a lot. But it’s affecting the world in many ways. Warmer temperatures are melting ice at Earth’s poles. Ocean waters are warming and expanding. Sea levels are rising as a result. That’s causing more flooding in coastal areas. 

A warmer world is also making seasons less predictable. It’s causing more extreme weather events. Long periods of high heat and little rain can destroy crops. They can also dry up water sources. Climate change could affect hundreds of plant and animal species. They have to adapt to a changing world. Or they’re at risk of dying out.

“The impacts of climate change get worse with higher temperatures,” says Natalie Mahowald. She’s a climate scientist at Cornell University.

iStockPhoto/Getty Images

Polar bears are at risk of dying out because the sea ice they rely on to hunt is shrinking.

Speaking Out

Experts say that in order to limit Earth’s warming and the worst effects of climate change, we need to act fast. Many countries will have to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. To do that, governments and businesses will need to make changes that limit pollution and switch to renewable energy. 

Many students want to make sure these big changes happen. That’s why they have joined youth movements that speak out about climate change. One of the leaders of these efforts is Greta Thunberg, from Sweden. She began protesting outside government offices in August 2018, when she was 15. Today, she regularly speaks to world leaders. She asks them to listen to scientists and pass laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Greta has inspired others to take action to protect the planet. Last year, Alexandria Villaseñor launched an organization called Earth Uprising. The group educates young people about climate change and how they can make a difference.

In India, 12-year-old Ridhima Pandey is suing the government for failing to take steps to address climate change. She wants leaders to enforce laws that protect forests and limit air pollution. “I want to save my future,” says Ridhima.

Experts say we need to act fast to limit Earth’s warming. That could lessen the worst effects of climate change. Many countries will have to cut the greenhouse gases they produce. Governments and businesses will need to help. They’ll have to limit pollution and switch to renewable energy.

Many students want to make sure these big changes happen. That’s why they’re speaking out. One of the leaders of these efforts is Greta Thunberg. She’s from Sweden. She began protesting in August 2018 when she was 15. Today, Greta often speaks to world leaders. She asks them to listen to scientists. And she asks them to pass laws to reduce greenhouse gases.

Greta has inspired others to take action to protect the planet. Last year, Alexandria Villaseñor created a group called Earth Uprising. It teaches young people about climate change. It shows them how they can make a difference.

Ridhima Pandey lives in India. She’s 12 years old. She’s suing her government. She says the Indian government failed to take steps to deal with climate change. She wants leaders to enforce laws that protect forests and limit air pollution. “I want to save my future,” says Ridhima.

How to Help

You can help tackle climate change too. You could start a club at your school to make more students aware of climate change. You could also make small lifestyle changes to reduce your carbon footprint (see What You Can Do, above). 

These actions can have an impact. But lawmakers can address climate change on a larger scale. “Every strike pressures them to take action to protect my generation’s future,” says Alexandria. “I will continue raising my voice.”

You can help tackle climate change too. You could start a club at your school to make more students aware of climate change. You could also make small changes to your life to cut your carbon footprint (see What You Can Do, above). 

These actions can have an impact. But lawmakers also need to act, says Alexandria. They can address climate change on a larger scale. “Every strike pressures them to take action to protect my generation’s future,” she says. “I will continue raising my voice.”

videos (1)
Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Lesson Plan (2)
Lesson Plan (2)
Leveled Articles (1)