KAILUA-KONA — Young people afraid for their futures protested around the globe Friday to implore leaders to tackle climate change, turning out by the hundreds of thousands to insist the warming world can’t wait any longer.
Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to New York. More than 100,000 turned out in Berlin according to an Associated Press Story published Friday.
In Kona, about two dozen sign wavers lined Queen Kaahumanu Highway at 3 p.m. to join the worldwide demonstrations.
Rianne Capron came to the Climate Strike because she wanted to wake people up.
“I’m here because I’m very concerned how our voting is going,” she said. “People need to get involved and get out to vote.”
Bailey Ferguson said she heard about the global movement and went to the official website looking for a gathering in West Hawaii. There wasn’t one listed so together with Chef Ellard she decided to organize Friday’s demonstration, using social media and the Climate Strike Hawaii Island Facebook page to get the word out.
“Everybody wants to do something. It’s all about action,” said Ferguson.
Across the world, the gatherings ran the spectrum.
Just days before a U.N. climate summit of world leaders, the “Global Climate Strike” events were as small as two dozen activists in Seoul using LED flashlights to send Morse code messages. But there were large ones, too, such as mass demonstrations in Australia that organizers estimated were the country’s largest since the Iraq War began in 2003.
On the Big Island, sign wavings were held by the Konawaena Environmental Activists Club at the high school and another gathering took place on Church Row in Waimea. Events also happened in Hilo and Naalehu.
In Kona, 10-year-old Corbin Young held a sign that read, “The World Can’t Wait” while waving to passing cars.
“I don’t want any of these plastics and unrenewables,” he said. “It makes no sense. Use solar panels. Put a solar panel on your car, that’s all you need. Then there’s no gas pollution.”
Thousands marched to the Capitol in Washington, including 15-year-old high school sophomore A.J. Conermann.
“Basically, our Earth is dying, and if we don’t do something about it, we die,” Conermann said.
The demonstrations were partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly “Fridays for Future” demonstrations for a year, urging world leaders to step up efforts against climate change.
“It’s such a victory,” Thunberg told The Associated Press in an interview in New York. “I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen, and so fast — and only in 15 months.”
Thunberg spoke at a rally later Friday and was expected to participate in a U.N. Youth Climate Summit on Saturday and speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit with global leaders on Monday.
“They have this opportunity to do something, and they should take that,” she said. “And otherwise, they should feel ashamed.”
Friday’s demonstrations started in Australia, where organizers estimated 300,000 protesters marched in 110 towns and cities, including Sydney and the national capital, Canberra. Demonstrators called for their country, the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The demonstrations continue through Sept. 30.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.