Students filled Town Square with chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go” Friday afternoon as they joined the international Youth Climate Strike.
Teens from Australia to Uganda protested what they see as decades of inaction on climate change by world leaders.
“It affects our future and our generation,” Cameryn Cross, 13, said. “If we don’t do something now, it will affect everything.”
Over 30 middle and high school students met under the antler arches before walking around downtown chanting with signs.
Some posters read: “We speak for the trees,” “It’s the hour for wind power,” “Denying climate = denying us,” “The dinosaurs probably thought they had more time” and “The climate is changing so why don’t we?”
The Wyoming teenagers were joined by a few parents, community members and even a dog.
Sienna Taylor joined Jackson Hole High School classmate Rosalie Daval to rally the troops.
“Since this is the generation that’s going to be facing a lot of the consequences, we have to take action,” Taylor said.
While skipping school for the day or even a few hours isn’t always encouraged, Daval said, “We definitely feel supported by the science and by the education that we’ve received.”
One of the younger protesters was 10-year-old Max Andersen. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, a teenager recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, inspired him to participate.
“He’s worried adults are not paying enough attention,” Max’s mother, Marilyn Andersen, said.
Student concerns ranged from sea turtles and polar bears facing extinction to melting glaciers and rising sea levels. They also said they were worried about what climate change could do to their home in the Tetons.
When asked what she was most afraid of, 14-year-old Chloe Wehner said, “this place not looking the same as it’s always looked.”
Since 1900 average annual temperatures in Jackson Hole have climbed 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit, stream temperatures are 1.8 degrees warmer and frost free nights are happening earlier in the spring and later in the fall, a 2015 report found.
The report predicts warmer winters and a thinner average snowpack, with implications for alpine and snow-dependent species, as well as larger and more frequent wildfires that could eventually make it impossible for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s pine forests to survive.
Journeys School student Taylor Smith, 14, said she grew up participating in winter sports activities that could cease to exist.
“If we have kids,” she said, “we might not be able to share those experiences with them.”
Earlier in the day, some students wrote letters to legislators encouraging support for conservation efforts, sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy sources.
“What’s on the line is something I’m very passionate about,” Daval said.