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La Crosse students join international youth strike to call for climate action

La Crosse students join international youth strike to call for climate action

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If you see a group of teenagers outside City Hall this summer holding signs to raise awareness about the climate crisis, know that La Crosse has joined #FridaysForFuture.

The #FridaysforFuture movement is an international youth climate strike protesting the lack of political will from adults to address the immediate climate crisis.

The movement, started by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden in August 2018, calls on world leaders to wean their countries off their dependence on fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperatures from rising more than 2-degrees Celsius.

Since Thonberg started, the protest has expanded to 131 countries and 1,851 cities, according to the #FridaysForFuture website.

The idea to start a local chapter started with four friends in pre-calculus class, said Peyton Haug, a rising senior at Central High School. Haug is a co-founder of the La Crosse chapter, along with friends Lily Herling, Emma Ehlers and Anna Durall, also rising seniors at Central High School.

“So we got together at Jules (coffee shop) and went from there,” Haug said.

They used Instagram to publicize the weekly protest and have been protesting outside City Hall for two weeks now, Herling said.

Some of them bike to take part in the strike. The plan is to strike at City Hall during the summer and continue on Fridays outside of school in the fall.

The ongoing heat wave enveloping southwest Wisconsin and much of the U.S. adds an extra level of urgency to their protest.

Meanwhile, the world experienced its hottest June on record and the planet’s temperature has been warmer than average for 414 consecutive months.

“I don’t think any generation has had to have this type of constant anxiety on their backs,” Haug said. “It’s really hard watching our world die before our eyes and feeling like we have no control over it. So that’s why we’re out striking.”

Jennifer Lu is the La Crosse Tribune environmental reporter. You can reach her by phone at 608-791-8217 and by email jennifer.lu@lee.net.

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