Young and old take to Fresno streets on worldwide day of strikes for climate action

On a day of global strikes for climate action, young people in Fresno skipped school to bring awareness to the issue locally.

About 250 people marched through downtown at midday Friday calling for action on climate change and for more people to join their cause. The marchers strolled past City Hall, the federal courthouse and convened at Eaton Plaza, where they chanted, “We walk as one, we breath as one, we’re not going to stop ‘til the work is done.”

The local march was part of a larger net of events inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old from Sweden who has become an internationally known climate activist and has continued to call on world leaders to step up efforts against climate change.

The massive global demonstrations also came ahead of a United Nations summit Monday that will focus on the climate emergency. A youth climate summit is planned prior to the leader summit.

The UN summit is being called by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He wants to pressure countries to promise to reduce carbon pollution even more than they did in the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Kieshaun White, 19, leads a strike through downtown Fresno calling for attention to climate change. The Fresno march was one of many held around the world on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. CRESENCIO RODRIGUEZ-DELGADO cdelgado@fresnobee.com

In Fresno, issues of climate change aren’t far from the minds of those who attended Friday’s rally. A centerpiece of the local protest was getting youth to become civically engaged and push local and regional leaders to be aware of environmental issues.

“Little do we know, it’s starting to become too late for the adults. We’re the next up in line,” said Kieshaun White, 19, who led the march. White developed an air monitoring system when he was a high school sophomore and it was installed at local high schools.

Karla Gamez, 19, joined the march with her sister Jatzubylem Gamez, 16, who brought signs that called attention to the humanity of climate change.

“We just need to change our ways. If we keep on doing what we’re doing, further in the future we won’t be able to do anything,” the younger Gamez said.

Karla Gamez said attending the march as a young person was important because, “this is the beginning of us taking over.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado is a general assignment reporter at The Fresno Bee. He grew up in Porterville and has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Fresno State. He is a former student editor at the Fresno State and Fresno City College newspapers. His hobbies include reading, sleeping, running and taking care of his dog.