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Arizona students take part in global climate strike

The student-led march to the Capitol was part of a worldwide day of protest

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Arizona Youth Climate Strike protesters in front of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

Climate change activists marched to the Arizona State Capitol building in downtown Phoenix on Friday as part of a larger Global Climate Strike to demand environmental action from elected officials. 

The protest was organized by Arizona high school and college students, with demands ranging from the increasing renewable energy in Arizona to ratifying the Green New Deal

Brian Mecinas, a freshman majoring in political science and one of the organizers of Arizona Youth Climate Strike, said it is important that Arizona adopts more sustainable policies because the state is more susceptible to the effects of climate change. 

Mecinas said there is a need for more sustainable agriculture and water conservation in Arizona.

"We are in the desert and we are in one of those landscapes that's very vulnerable to the threats of the climate crisis," Mecinas said. "We definitely need to make sure that we're preparing for these things now and making sure that we have plans to remain resilient."

Mecinas said holding the protest at the State Capitol showed people that environmentalism is not just a federal issue, but one that needs to be addressed on a state and local level as well.

"A lot of people think, 'Oh, Congress needs to do more. Congress needs to do this,'" Mecinas said. "In reality, we have a perfectly operational legislature here in Arizona, located right here in Phoenix, and all these legislators, state representatives and state senators are not having these discussions."

According to the Arizona Youth Climate Strike organizers, an estimated 1,500 people took part in the protest. As the activists moved through downtown Phoenix, their chants included "You can't drink oil, keep it in the soil," and "We are unstoppable, a better world is possible." 

After marching from the Maricopa County Courthouse to the Capitol, various speakers, tabling groups and different organizations from the Phoenix area gathered to further the conversation.

Katie Meyer, a freshman majoring in conservation biology and ecology, was one of the volunteers at the rally for NextGen ASU

She said the reason she got involved with NextGen ASU, and was a part of one of the groups tabling, is to encourage young people to vote. 

"My main goal is just getting people to care about politics, because I feel a lot of young people have kind of given up on politicians," Meyer said. "If you don't vote, things aren't going to happen the way you want them to."

Eliana Danowski-Underiner, art education junior and attendee of the protest, said that it was encouraging to see other college students get involved. 

"I just want to see as many familiar faces as possible," Danowski-Underiner said. "I've seen a good handful of ASU students already, and I think that's really cool that we're all sharing this together."

Mecinas said at the end of the day, students should care about the impacts of climate change because it puts their future at risk. 

"As college students, we're all paying exorbitant amounts of money for an education that is supposed to come into play in the future," Mecinas said. "Right now, I feel like we're working towards a future that we're not guaranteed to have."

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