Students Globally Protest Warming, Pleading for Their Future (Pics, Vid)

Students play with an inflatable globe as they march to demand action on climate change, in Rome, Friday, March 15, 2019. Students worldwide are skipping class Friday to take to the streets to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against global warming. (Alessandro Di Meo/ANSA via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Students across a warming globe pleaded for their lives, future and planet Friday, demanding tough action on climate change.

From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, angry students in more than 100 countries walked out of classes to protest what they see as the failures by their governments.

Well more than 150,000 students and adults who were mobilized by word of mouth and social media protested in Europe, according to police estimates. But the initial turnout in the United States did not look quite as high.

High school students demonstrate outside the Pantheon monument in Paris, Friday, March 15, 2019. Students worldwide are skipping class Friday to take to the streets to protest their governments’ failure to take sufficient action against global warming. Poster at center right reads “Utopians are not us”. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

“Borders, languages and religions do not separate us,” eight-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards, who calls herself the tiny diplomat, told hundreds of protesters at the U.S. Capitol. “Today we are telling the truth and we do not take no for an answer.”

The coordinated “school strikes” were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, fueled by dramatic headlines about the impact of climate change during the students’ lifetime. Unless emissions of heat-trapping gases start dropping dramatically, scientists estimate that the protesters will be in their 40s and 50s, maybe even 30s, when the world will reach dangerous levels of warming that international agreements are trying to prevent.

Students march onto Market Street during a protest against climate change Friday, March 15, 2019, in San Francisco. From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, students are skipping classes to protest what they see as the failures of their governments to take tough action against global warming. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Thunberg, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, said at a rally in Stockholm that the world faces an “existential crisis, the biggest crisis humanity ever has faced and still it has been ignored for decades.”

Activist Greta Thunberg, foreground, participates in a climate protest, in central Stockholm Sweden, Friday, March 15, 2019. Students worldwide skipped classes Friday to take to the streets to protest their governments’ failure to take sufficient action against global warming. (Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency via AP)

Across the globe, protesters urged politicians to act against climate change while highlighting local environmental problems:

— In India’s capital of New Delhi, schoolchildren protested inaction on climate change and demanded that authorities tackle rising air pollution levels, which often far exceed World Health Organization limits.

— In Paris, teenagers thronged streets around the domed Pantheon building. Some criticized French President Emmanuel Macron, who sees himself as the guarantor of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord but is criticized by activists as too business-friendly and not doing enough to reduce emissions.

— In Washington, protesters spoke in front of a banner saying “We don’t want to die.”

— In San Francisco, 1,000 demonstrators descended on the local offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wanting passage of the massive “Green New Deal” bill proposed in the U.S. Congress.

— In St. Paul, Minnesota, about 1,000 students gathered before the state Capitol, chanting “Stop denying the earth is dying.”

— In South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, one protester held a sign reading “You’ll Miss The Rains Down in Africa.” Experts say Africa, with more than 1 billion people, is expected to be hardest hit by global warming even though it contributes least to greenhouse gas emissions.

— Thousands marched in rainy Warsaw and other Polish cities to demand a ban on burning coal, a major source of carbon dioxide. Some carried banners that read “Make Love, Not CO2.”

— Protests in Madrid and more than 50 other Spanish cities drew thousands. The country is vulnerable to rising sea levels and rapid desertification .

— In Berlin, police said as many as 20,000 protesters gathered in a downtown square before marching through the German capital to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

Students in Cape Town, South Africa take part in a protest, Friday, March 15, 2019 as part of a global student strike against government inaction on climate change. Students in cities worldwide skipped classes to protest their governments’ failure to act against global warming. (AP Photo/Nasief Manie)

Some politicians praised the students.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was inspired by the student climate strikers to call a special summit in September to deal with what he called “the climate emergency.”

“My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change,” Guterres wrote in an opinion piece in The Guardian. “This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen showed up at a protest in Copenhagen and tweeted Friday “we must listen to the youth. Especially when they’re right: the climate must be one of our top priorities.”

Scientists have warned for decades that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are unsustainable, so far with little effect.

In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to a goal of keeping the Earth’s global temperature rise by the end of the century well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times.

Yet the world has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees) since then and is on track for an increase of 4 degrees Celsius, which experts say would have far-reaching consequences for life on the planet.

In Stockholm, Thunberg predicted that students won’t let up their climate protests.

“There are a crisis in front of us that we have to live with, that we will have to live with for all our lives, our children, our grandchildren and all future generations,” she said. “We are on strike because we do want a future.”

By: Frank Jordans and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

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