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Arizona Students Join Global Climate Strike

MARK BRODIE: Valley students this afternoon will take part in a national and international effort to take on climate change. The Arizona Youth Climate Strike is one of more than 100 across the country. The version here will run from four to six at the state Capitol. Aditi Narayanan is one of its organizers. She is a junior at Basis Phoenix and says she's hoping for between two and four hundred people to show up later today. She described the event as a way to support legislation, register new voters and trained people on lobbying, among other things.

ADITI NARAYANAN: What we're really focusing on is, you know, bringing community awareness to the issue of climate justice and climate change, and we're just so excited that, you know, so many people want to get involved so quickly.

BRODIE: What type of legislation are you looking at?

NARAYANAN: Sure. So yeah, we are supporting a few bills that the Senate votes and the House votes are coming up next week, and they're mostly concerning either fracking or water conservation, which is such a big issue on the Arizona pile. A lot of people don't think about like where their water comes from, but it's such a big issue ultimately, and a lot of other issues such as solar power, funding for solar power, and those are the bills that we're looking at right now, and, you know, we're just passionately supporting that legislation.

BRODIE: Do you have a sense of how much your classmates, other high school students, other young people in general pay attention to this kind of stuff?

NARAYANAN: I mean, a lot of people are like, oh man, young people, you on your phones and stuff. I don't know. I can't do a good old person impression, but lot of them are like, oh you guys are so indifferent to this. But after spreading the word at school, I find that a lot of young people are interested and passionate about these issues, but they don't put in the time to get involved or they don't know how to get involved, and they think like, man, if I just tweet about this, that should be enough, and I'm like, no, no, no, no. There's so much more you could do! So just telling young people how they can affect change and the issues they care about, even if they can't vote yet, even if they can't run for office yet, there are so many other ways they can get involved. So I would say most young people care about these issues, but in terms of knowing how to, you know, get involved with these issues, that's where we fall short of the line.

BRODIE: What ideally would you like to come from your event on Friday? Like, what would be, like, a good next step after that?

NARAYANAN: Yeah for sure. So first of all, if people show up, I will be glad. I will be surprised and very glad, and if we get a lot of voters registered, I think that's a main goal of mine. And also if everyone just, you know, ends up really inspired by the speakers and stuff like that, and if they sign up to volunteer, because we're going to have a lot of volunteers sign-up sheets everywhere. And, you know, if we get enough people to sign up, enough people involved in it, either like, holding a clean-up or something like that, or doing more legislative action — either sides of that climate justice spectrum, I will believe it's, you know, it's an effective event.

BRODIE: Do you think that it in some ways might be an easier sell to younger people to get them involved in issues on the state level, as opposed to watching what Congress or the administration at any given time might be doing?

NARAYANAN: Well, I think people care more about what happens at the federal level, which is the opposite for me. I do not — like, whatever the U.S. Congress is doing, I feel like that'll affect me less than what my legislator, what my city councilor, what happens in those things affect me more. But I feel like people care less about those, so, you know, it's a double-sided coin there because Congress is way more flashy. It's like, oh my God, there's so many polarizing figures and it's way more interesting than your local government, but local government is where everything happens. So I hope that's where I can get more young people involved.

BRODIE: Now this is part of a nationwide effort in cities across the country. Do you find that what you guys are planning to do is similar or different to what is happening in other cities?

NARAYANAN: Well, as, like personally, I don't really like strikes without a purpose. You know, I don't like just rallying for like, without any specific bills or any specific end goal, just to get, you know, social media attention or whatever. And I feel like that might be happening in some other cities, but in other states, you know, people are definitely supporting certain bills and stuff like that, and they do have definitely, like, common goals in mind, but it manifests itself differently in every other state, and that's what I love most about national movements, right? Because, like, the march in Arizona is going to look so different than the rally in Alabama or, you know, Kentucky. They're all over the place, and so, I don't know. I think that we're definitely having local differences, different bills on the ballot, and the way they manifest themselves are going to be different, but the passion is the same in every rally.

BRODIE: Let me ask you about the word strike itself.


BRODIE: Because I think there's a certain connotation that goes with that.

NARAYANAN: Yeah, definitely.

BRODIE: And the event that you guys have later today is at four o'clock, so when most schools are out. Is this actually like, are you guys actually striking something here?

NARAYANAN: Yeah, okay. So definitely what I would say is that we held the event at four, well, one, because of heat stuff and stuff like that. But the other reason we held it at four is because some people wanted to walk out, they wanted to make a movement, and some people are still in school at that time. So they wanted to make that strong statement of walking out, and I'd say I definitely support that. But I also, you know, don't want people to get in trouble because education is our number one priority. So if people want to stay in school and come by later, we have made it accessible to that option, because, you know, striking isn't accessible for everyone, right? So it's definitely all about, like, what kind of movement each individual wants to make. Some people are, like, definitely, like, I'm walking out of school, I'm walking out of math and I'm saying this is about climate change, and that's something that I want everyone to have the choice to make.

BRODIE: What got you interested in this issue to begin with?

NARAYANAN: Well, I used to work on the 2018 midterm elections before this, so I was, like, you know, knocking on doors. I was that person who was like, "Have you heard of Kyrsten Sinema?" You know, that person that everyone like, no, but that was really exciting for me. I made a lot of calls and stuff like that, and I learned a lot about the democratic process through that. But after that I was like, okay, elections are over, ah, I can't do anything else. But I realized, yes I can. You know, because I found out even though my elected officials were elected, we had to hold them accountable, right? We had to see what bills, how they were voting on bills, how those bills affected us. And so I got with a group of friends and we were discussing, you know, how to lobby for certain bills or how to throw our support behind certain ideals, and so that's what got me involved in environmental justice because we were like, that is such a main issue. Most of the, like, voting measures we were looking at were related to the environment in some way or the other and affected communities like that in some way or the other, so we were like, wow, everything ties into this issue of sustainability and business and growth. So we decided to pursue that. And, you know, it's been really great so far.

BRODIE: Aditi Narayanan is a junior at Basis Phoenix an organizer of the Arizona Youth Climate Strike, this afternoon at the state Capitol.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.