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Urgency Palpable as Young Montanans Gear Up for Climate Strike

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019   

MISSOULA, Mont. - Montanans are joining the Global Climate Strike on Friday to demand action on climate change. More than 3,400 climate-strike events are planned in 120 countries.

The youth-led movement is to take place in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday. Students and workers around the world plan to walk out in solidarity.

Maeve Lange, a junior at Sentinel High School in Missoula who is helping organize the Missoula strike, said the event is a useful outlet for young people concerned about their future who aren't yet old enough to vote.

"We can't continue on as if things are going as usual, because they're not," she said, "and students striking is the only way we can exercise our voice, I feel, at this point."

Lange said the Missoula strike will feature climate-education opportunities, something she said students aren't getting in schools.

Sara Blessing, lead organizer of the Gallatin County branch of the Sunrise Movement, just graduated from Montana State University and is planning the Bozeman strike. As the threat of wildfires increases, Blessing said, she'd like to see Montana do more to combat climate change, including moving away from fossil fuels, hearing more from politicians on the crisis and declaring a climate emergency. She said she thinks the need for action is urgent.

"Now, more than ever," she said, "civic action and participation in our democracy is essential to preserving what I think we all hold dear as Montanans."

Matt Treaster, a graduate student at Montana Tech in Helena, is pushing for even more localized action, calling on the capital city to follow Missoula's lead and transition to a reliance on 100% clean electricity.

"I kind of see this strike and our effort here as part of, obviously, a larger effort to push things at a local level," he said. "And so, that's not always that easy. You just have to organize."

More information on the strikes is online at globalclimatestrike.net.


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