Climate man

Lone Warren student shows up at the courthouse to protest inaction

AP Photo Protesters chant and cheer as they listen to speakers at the Washtenaw County Climate Strike on the University of Michigan Diag in Ann Arbor, Mich., Friday, March 15 2019. .

Rosa Parks. Ghandi. The Tank Man of Tiananmen Square.

History teaches us that change is not only possible, it is inevitable. No matter how many people, soldiers, or cities are destroyed, it is often a lone courageous voice that causes the spark needed to alter its course.

On Friday, youth from all over the world amassed to demonstrate their concerns about the effects of climate change and the future of our planet.

While more and more young people speaking up to facilitate change is nothing new, last summer 16 year old Swedish student Greta Thunberg vowed not to attend her classes until the Swedish government committed itself to reducing carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. After Sweden experienced its own bout of heatwaves and wildfires, Thunberg parked herself in front of the Riksdag (Swedish legislature) with a sign that read Skolstrejk for klimatet, or School strike for climate.

Also known as Fridays For Future, her activism inspired school age students across the globe to mount demonstrations in the form of student strikes.

Photo submitted to Times Observer Storm Sivak of WAHS joins students all around the world in the hopes of engaging more people about the effects of climate change and the consequences of doing nothing.

In Warren, only one area student showed up at the Warren County Courthouse to join in.

Storm Sivak of WAHS tried to get some of his friends to join him, but for a wide variety of practical reasons, such as the All-County Musical causing too much missed school already, Sivak had no choice but to go it alone yesterday.

Not that they don’t share his concerns, but for many of them it’s just “not a priority” according to Sivak. He says maybe only 5-10% of people he knows flat out deny the existence of climate change. But for the rest of them, economic reasons such as reliable transportation, make the problem seem far too complex for any one person to fix overnight.

“97% of NASA scientists agree that we have 12 years max before the effects (of climate change) become irreversible.” Sivak said. Clearly well-researched on the subject, it would be unfair to characterize Sivak’s motives as political or a convenient excuse to skip school.

“It’s an issue that will affect everyone unless unsolved.” Sivak stressed.

AP Photo Students march to demand action on climate change, in Santiago, Chile, Friday, March 15, 2019. Students worldwide are skipping class Friday to take to the streets to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against global warming.

Equipped with hand made signs and prepared to answer any questions, Sivak stuck it out from 11a.m – 4p.m. Friday afternoon.

According to Sivak, “only 5 people” stopped to speak with him. “Two of them were in their (maybe) 40’s and 3 in their 60’s.” At one point late in the day, two elementary age students approached and asked what it was all about.

“Climate change, “ he said as he asked if they knew what that meant.

“No,” they said, and suggested that it was caused by ducks and could be solved by getting rid of them all.

Meanwhile, school age students in over 100 countries walked out of school to protest government inaction in regards to climate change.

Sivak’s research on the subject suggests that the problem can be solved as long as more and more people can simply become open to discussing the possible solutions.

“Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide…fossil fuels release these greenhouse gases.” he explains. “(They) deplete the ozone layer of our atmosphere that protects us from UV radiation.”

As opposed to eliminating fossil fuels altogether, Sivak suggests that the “best way to counteract (these effects) is to plant more trees to absorb carbon dioxide.” Also, he adds that eating less meat can reduce the production of methane and other greenhouse gases.

Regardless of your stance on the issue, it’s hard to argue that today’s youth have the most to win or lose by doing something or nothing. To Sivak, the affects are indisputable.

“Drought leads to less crops, “ leads to famine, he said.

Waters rising leads to less land and more overpopulation. The loss of glaciers leads to the destruction of more natural wildlife habitats.Wildfires, mosquitoes, malaria, smog. According to Sivak, this is what has already happened and will continue to happen until it becomes more than just a passing concern for a majority of people.

Global temperatures “can be raised to 2∂ above pre industrial levels (and we’re) already at 1.5∂.” At the current rates of fossil fuel consumption, scientists expect that temperature to reach “3.5∂ to 4.5∂” according to Sivak’s research.

Thanks to social media, Sivak was undeterred by the apparent lack of local participation. Massive crowds of students all around the world showed up to join the cause, and even though Sivak likely doesn’t know any of them personally, he knows he is not really alone.

Toward the end of the day, a car driving past had a young female student leaning out the passenger side screaming, “Yes! I agree!”

Sivak smiled, “See?”

He’s planning to mount another demonstration on Earth Day, which will be on Monday, April 22.