Irvine Community Joins Global Climate Strike

The Irvine community came together to join the Sept. 20 Global Climate Strike at the intersection of Alton Parkway and Culver Drive. Students and citizens gathered to spread awareness and advocate for climate justice on a local, state, national, and global level. 

(Michelle Cornelius)

“We are here to tell our leaders that they need to step up and fight for climate,” said Patty Yoo, one of the organizers of the Irvine Climate Action Strike. 

UCI School of Law Professor David Min, one of the speakers at the Irvine Climate Action Strike, spoke on the issue of climate change.

“This is a political problem. We know that climate science is real. We know that we are facing an existential crisis for civilization unless we act right now. I cannot stress to you how important it is we vote for the right people in these elections… If we don’t act now, my colleagues and I at UCI know that we are facing something that is dismal for our future, for the next generation, for our young people … We need a Green New Deal, we need to invest significantly in technology, we need to get to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible.”

The event had an RSVP count of almost 300 people and a turnout of about 400 people. They had a variety of posters and chants on reducing the use of oil, fossil fuels, and other natural resources. There were also inspirational speeches from professors, Ph.D. candidates, students, older citizens, and even children concerned about their future. 

(Michelle Cornelius)

UCI Earth System Science major and Global Sustainability minor student Patricia Haigh was the main organizer of the strike. When asked about her involvement, Haigh said, “This being a global event, I wanted to be a part of it. But then once I looked at Irvine, I saw that there was nothing going on, and they made it so easy for you to host your own strike and so I just did it. I literally clicked a button, hosted a strike, and then it just blew up from there.”

The main purpose of the strike was to better publicize the negative impacts of climate change on different communities in the world and also push for real actionable policy goals. 

“One of our demands for this event is to create a New Green Deal, one that’s feasible, one that most people could agree with,” Haigh said.  “I know the last one was voted down recently, but that doesn’t mean they should give up on it. They need to keep revising it, keep convincing people why it’s good.”

This event is part of a larger global climate movement that spans over 150 countries. Last Friday’s strike strategically precedes the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, Sept. 23, with another strike soon after on Sept. 27. Protestors hope that the sustained action of multiple strikes and the disruption of business will spur politicians to recognize the urgency of climate change and provide stronger policies to combat it. 

These strikes have been partially inspired by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Starting Aug. 2018, Greta began skipping school on Friday to go outside the Swedish parliament and advocate for climate action. 

“We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time,” Thunberg said. “Change is coming.”

While not the leader of the movement, Thunberg helped influence other students to be more vocal about climate justice by talking to political representatives and participating in strikes, including the recent Climate Strike. 

Haigh is also president of the club Climatepedia. She encourages students to go to climatepedia.org for more information on climate change.

“What we are trying to do is bridge the gap between science and the public because most of the time, scientists don’t know how to publicize,” Haigh said. “The most important part is to get the public in touch with the science behind it.”