On Friday, Sept. 20, hundreds of students, faculty and other members of the Lincoln community will march from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Union Plaza to the Capitol building as part of the worldwide Climate Strike movement.
The march was organized and will be led by Sustain UNL, a recognized student organization at UNL. Over 700 people have indicated they will participate in the march, and the group hopes the amount of participants will help pressure Nebraskan officials to take action against climate change, said Brittni McGuire, Sustain UNL president and a junior fisheries and wildlife major
There are global climate strikes happening around the world on Friday, largely inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish activist who has been striking every Friday for over a year now, McGuire said. This Friday will be the largest mobilization of youth for climate change ever, she said.
“In Nebraska, we have leaders that literally just ignore climate change by denying it, and that is just unacceptable,” McGuire said.
Sophomore computer science and economics double major Ben Wingerter, and sophomore economics, environmental studies and natural resource economics triple major Kat Woerner are members of Sustain UNL who said they are passionate about the upcoming march.
“The way I see it is, if we don’t work to address the issues surrounding sustainability and climate change in our society, why would anything else matter?” Wingerter said. “I’m involved in Sustain UNL because I believe that any small actions that are taken will lead to big differences, and I don’t want to look back 50 years from now and think that I didn’t do enough.”
McGuire said that while Sustain UNL hopes to catch the attention of Nebraskan government officials with this strike, she believes that real change starts from within the university.
“I think that our whole state looks to the university for guidance,” she said. “The things that we do set the stage for our state. I want our university to come out and state that climate change is a crisis and that we are going to take the steps necessary to address it, because if our university is addressing climate change then our state can do it too.”
McGuire said she hopes to increase awareness throughout the community on how pressing the issue of global warming is through this demonstration.
“First and foremost, even if the leaders of our state completely disregard us, we’re uniting Nebraska on climate action,” McGuire said. “Second, we hope to build a culture of embracing change. There's a lot of change that needs to happen, both on the state and personal levels, and we have to embrace them and get them done.”
McGuire, Woerner and Wingerter said all actions, even if they seem small, make a difference in the global fight against climate change.
“I think it’s really important that students see that these efforts and demonstrations do make a difference,” Wingerter said. “[Participants] are making it heard to our elected officials that climate action is something we demand.”