The "entitled" younger generation is entitled to a future, school climate strike organiser Ali Gammeter says.

That has to be a real future, and not a stuggle amid the effects of catastrophic climate change. She was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of about 150 people who turned up for the strike at Whanganui's Virginia Lake Punchbowl on March 15.

Most who responded to the event on Facebook were adult. She feared they might outnumber the younger generation - but there were young people from all Whanganui's secondary schools, and a few from primary and intermediate schools too.
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Why should we study for a future that we don't actually have or that will be a constant, miserable struggle?

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There were teachers too - Kevin Booth from St John's Hill School was outed when he won a prize.

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Whanganui schools have been good about the strike, Gammeter said. Whanganui Girls' College and Whanganui High School students will not be marked absent if they have contacted the school and said they were striking.

Those at the punchbowl gathered in groups, with placards and banners. It was hot, and speeches were punctuated by the squawks of cockatoo from the aviary.

Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall was there, with his children. He was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg, who started a global school strike for climate.

"Individual action has effect, and collective action has even greater effect," he said.

He said the way the ozone hole has stopped growing, as a result of global action to limit CFC emissions, was an example.

In her own speech, Gammeter said she first heard about global warming eight years ago, and thought world leaders would fix it.

Instead it was "us all around the world with our underdeveloped frontal lobes actually thinking about the future".
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Students from all of Whanganui's secondary schools came to the school strike for climate. Photo / Stuart Munro
Students from all of Whanganui's secondary schools came to the school strike for climate. Photo / Stuart Munro

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Some have said the students just wanted a day off school

"Why should we study for a future that we don't actually have or that will be a constant, miserable struggle?" was her reply.

She would like to see a research-based long-term transition plan, with reforestation and renewable energy, and goals and deadlines.

Green Party member Nicola Patrick added to the wish list: solar panels, no coal burned to provide electricity and freight travelling on trains, not trucks.

Teenager Messina Su'a was disappointed with the turnout, and said the schools should have publicised the strike.

"We had to go out of our way to find out about this and get involved."
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Organiser Ali Gammeter, 17, gave a spirited speech at the school strike for climate. Photos / Stuart Munro
Organiser Ali Gammeter, 17, gave a spirited speech at the school strike for climate. Photos / Stuart Munro

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Fellow Whanganui High School student Kahu Miller said climate change was something he worried about in the night.

"I feel like climate change is an issue that's going to affect not only us but future generations and we need to do something about it. It's worth sacrificing school time to come to voice our opinion."