About 100 students, carrying signs and tombstone-shaped placards, gathered on the steps of Manitoba’s legislative building to hold a funeral for Earth Friday.
While they mourned the apathy of those who have allowed the planet to reach an ecological crisis due to climate change, they didn’t linger on the lament, or suggest things were too far gone.
Instead, they chanted for action — “Do not let our planet die. Climate change is not a lie” — with one speaker bluntly stating that everyone needs to alter their lifestyles to be more considerate and conscious of what they’re buying, eating, using and throwing out.
“Earth deserves a future, so do we. There is no planet B,” the chants went on.
“When the air we breathe is under attack, we stand up and we fight back,” another went.
The students, from elementary and high schools around the city, were part of a global event taking place in more than 100 countries, inspired by School Strike for Climate Change — a movement that Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg began in August.
It was a protest for action as much as one against government inaction, organized by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition.
One of the giant tombstones included the message “RIP Earth,” in reference to the UN International Panel on Climate Change report that concluded humanity has 12 years left to avoid catastrophic warming of 1.5 Celsius.
Speakers urged people to take their own small steps to collectively make a large difference, such as bringing reusable bags to grocery stores, reusing everything as much as possible, and walking, cycling or taking transit rather than driving.
“We are doing our part and we are asking that the politicians here at the legislature, and our federal government and in our municipal government, [to] do something,” said one speaker.
“What we have here is a large-scale problem. Large-scale problems require large-scale solutions and that is what our government is for.”
Other signs denounced the use of plastics and oil pipelines. Many featured the names of people who have died from natural disasters — the prevalence and intensity of which are being blamed on climate change.
Another bluntly stated “We’re running out of time.”
“If we lose this beloved planet, it will be because the majority decided it was not worth the fight,” said one speaker.
The event ended with a moment of silence for the Earth.