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One strike, you’re out

Rising greenhouse gas emissions are still having disastrous impacts on the planet. That’s why a group of people have come up with an innovative new way to fight climate change.  

Earth Strike is a grassroots organization founded in November 2018. Its goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by planning protests leading up to a global general strike on Sept. 27, 2019. 

Research from the CDP’s 2017 Carbon Majors Report showed that 71 per cent of the world’s global industrial greenhouse gas emissions come from just 100 polluters. That’s why they plan to demand climate action from governments and corporations that are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions.   

Planting the seed 

According to Leo de Vries, the Canadian National OrganizerEarth Strike started on Reddit –– mainly in response to the October 2018 IPCC Special Report. The report states if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising at the current rate, the planet will likely reach 1.5 C between 2030 and 2052. The idea gained support among Reddit users internationally, and eventually, national groups formed, and planning began. 

The first protest took place on Jan. 15. Local branches of Earth Strike around the world reached out to the public by canvassing and talking to members of their communities. 

Owen Maitzen, the Nova Scotia provincial organizer, planned the event in Halifax. He stated that the preliminary response from the public was very positive. Many people they talked to seemed “very eager to help out and excited about the work that we were doing.” 

Because of negative responses from Halifax community online, Maitzen was surprised at the public support on the ground. 

“I made a post on the Halifax subreddit back in December, and the response was mostly negative,” said Maitzen. “There were a lot of climate skeptics and people that had no idea what would be involved in a general strike, why it might be effective, and generally not as much enthusiasm as there was on the ground.” 

 Growing an idea 

Maitzen believes a general strike is an effective way for people of the labour force to demand action of the corporations economically benefitting from greenhouse gas emissions.

Earth Strike has a list of international demands of companies. Some of the demands are to reduce worldwide carbon emissions, stop wildlife habitat destruction and agree to be held accountable for emissions. The Canadian campaign also created a list of demands for the federal government about green technological advancement, resource management reform and economic reform. 

Two more events will occur on April 27 and Aug. 1 to raise awareness before the first strike in September.  

Maitzen said he’s not yet sure what will be planned for Nova Scotia on April 27. But he’s hoping that it will be “a much bigger” and “broader reaching event” than the January protest. He hopes it expands to other communities in Nova Scotia. 

 Rustling the leaves 

Maitzen wants to hold bi-weekly events like the Jan. 15 canvassing event to “grow [the] movement, so when April 27 comes around, maybe we don’t have 10 people, maybe we have 100 people. That might fulfill our secondary goal of getting media attention and spreading the message of Earth Strike in a much more efficient way. So that by the time the strike rolls around everyone will have heard of it.” 

Both Maitzen and de Vries envision the Sept. 27 strike date as the beginning of a much longer struggle to avoid the worst of climate change effects. However, Maitzen realizes that one strike won’t be enough to bring about massive global reform.  

“I don’t think [Earth Strike] should die out after 2019. I think it should be a major player on the world stage for years to come while climate change and climate-induced poverty, starvation [and] disease … are still an issue.” 

For those interested in getting involved with Earth Strike, Maitzen encourages people to join the Earth Strike Facebook group.


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