Why we are striking?
‘Because the science tells us that in fact emissions are rising,’ called out organiser Mia Thom to the unprecedented crowd at the Byron Bay Student Strike 4 Climate last Friday morning.
‘That the ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. That the acidification of the oceans is going to cause a collapse of coral reefs around the world.
‘That 50 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached. That the Amazon, our Earth’s lungs, are burning, and have been for a month. That one million species are on the verge of extinction. That our planet, that is currently the home to seven billion people, may only be able to support one billion if we cannot stop the temperature from rising.
‘And that is why we are striking! Because we are frightened, we are terrified out of our minds because our world is literally on fire.
‘The international report on climate change estimated that we have now 11 years to limit global warming before change is irreversible. Before we reach the tipping point of complete ecosystem collapse.’
Largest rally Byron has seen
This is the largest rally that has ever taken place in Byron Bay with estimates between 6,000 and 10,000 people, with police estimates at around 7,000 protesters.
As the rally grew in size at the Byron Rec Grounds during the morning, police quickly realised that owing to the large numbers the march could not be contained on the footpath. As they chanted their way to the beachfront, the marchers filled half of Jonson Street, extending from Marvel Street to the beach as they called for immediate action on the climate crisis.
Speaking to the crowd, Mia Thom made it abundantly clear why people were there.
‘At school I have heard 12-year-old children debate what is the point in even planning for a future. My 13-year-old sister asked me if it would be possible for her to even have kids.
‘It is in moments like these when the despair can become blinding. All-consuming.
‘Yet look around us today, at the thousands gathered. Feel the very power that reverberates within the air. We are a force to be reckoned with, a force that our own government is scared of.
‘Movements of civil disobedience can topple systems. Can instigate lasting, enduring change. We have witnessed it across history, and we will witness it again.’
It is estimated that 300,000 to 350,000 people rallied around Australia, and around four million worldwide as the grassroots movement to respond to climate change accelerates.