Rochester students send message to lawmakers about climate change

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Thousands of students across the country staged school walkouts Friday demanding immediate action on climate change. One such rally took place in downtown Rochester, where students from three area high schools called on lawmakers to cut emissions and curb global warming.

“No more coal, no more oil. Keep your carbon in the soil!” chanted a group of about 150 students from John Marshall, Mayo, and Century High Schools.

With hand-made signs held high in the air, they met in the Peace Plaza to inspire change at noon.

Alina Kaliszewski is a senior at John Marshall High School

“There are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding climate change, and this leads to people kicking the problem down the road,” said Alina Kaliszewski, a senior at John Marshall.

The crowd helped make up the tens of thousands of students who participated in the “Youth Climate Strike” in places like St. Paul, New Jersey, California, Sweden, London, and New Delhi.

“This is a great learning experience. They’re learning how to speak publicly, how to comport themselves, and they’re learning how to be good citizens,” said retired science teacher Chuck Wheeler Handlon.

Protesters say governments worldwide are failing future generations by not tackling climate change. Many praised the “Green New Deal,” a piece of proposed legislation that says the government should take a stronger position on everything from cutting carbon emissions to giving every American a job.

Dozens of handmade signs were available for students

“Yeah, it’s a little pricey, but we’ve spent decades destroying our planet by pouring green house gases and other pollutants into our atmosphere. So it’s gonna add up when it comes time to pay it all back,” added Kaliszewski during her speech to the crowd.

There’s no official price tag attached to the Green New Deal, but politicians on both sides of the aisle say it would be in the trillions. However, some students, like Kaliszewski, claim that it’s worth it when it comes to addressing climate change.

“The general concept was first introduced in 2003. It’s time to stop being scared of it and take some action.”

Shannon Rousseau

Shannon Rousseau

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