EDITORIAL – Should students be allowed to strike for climate action?


An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

STUDENTS IN DOZENS of Canadian schools and elsewhere in the world will go on strike tomorrow.

Some will undoubtedly say, “How dare they? They should be punished.”

I say they should be commended. They’re part of a movement started by 16-year-old Swedish high-school student Greta Thunberg last year to protest the lack of action on climate change.

Her assessment of the urgency of the issue is now famous: “I want you to act like our house is on fire,” she has said. “Because it is.”

Friday’s strike follows one that was held March 15. In that one, a few dozen Kamloops students gathered near Royal Inland Hospital and then marched to City Hall. Their cause is just but young people are savvy enough to know that one act of protest won’t change the world. Governments need more than that to get the picture.

As the Climate Strike Canada website says, “Dramatic climate action is the only rational option for humanity.”

But not everybody agrees with the tactic. Some educators say strike action is the wrong approach. A day in school is more important than a protest, they say. The school system just can’t be seen to support such a thing, they say.

Some have even said students, or their parents, should be fined if they walk out.

In fairness, other educators support the strikes and have authorized absences.

In my view, it’s very telling that our youth are the ones taking the lead and taking the most action on crucial issues. If there’s any hope for saner gun laws, for example, it’s the student strikes against gun violence that will likely bring results.

May Friday’s strike in Kamloops draw not dozens, but hundreds to the cause of action on climate change.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8126 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

8 Comments on EDITORIAL – Should students be allowed to strike for climate action?

  1. Sean McGuinness // May 3, 2019 at 7:50 AM // Reply

    Better still, give these kids the right to vote.

  2. Marcus Lowe // May 2, 2019 at 3:43 PM // Reply

    Yes; to your question. Effective and Positive change rarely comes from adults who have already acquired far too much to risk (including their children). This is a quandary.

  3. So the students are going on strike. Ok good and if they want to set an example they can get out of their cars, buses and walk or ride to school for a start. Take a look at the packed parking lots at say NorKam or Westsyde Secondary. Cars and trucks galore with the N on them. Practice what you are trying to say if you want any validation.

  4. Ian M MacKenzie // May 2, 2019 at 7:00 AM // Reply

    Greta Thunberg has a far more realistic awareness and understanding of the perils our “business as usual” politicos have led us all into, and continue to lead us into. She understands the need to overcome their complacency with shock action. The educational “business as usual” group is part of the problem. Certainly our present curriculum won’t change things that are politically verboten, so I support wholeheartedly the impetus the kids’ Friday protests may give to getting the elders’ butts in gear. At least the kids are learning something crucial about how democracy must operate in order to save their future world. We oldsters have left it to the governing corporatocracy for far too long. Our house is on fire and we’ve failed to turn on the hoses. I hope our descendants can do better.

  5. Alan Smith // May 2, 2019 at 6:58 AM // Reply

    Students need to pinpoint specific measures that would help to reduce emissions–and not ineffective homespun Green measures.. Perhaps the greatest threat to the planet, is avoided by students and is the expected migration of hundreds of millions of people from warm low energy consuming countries to Northern, cold high energy consuming countries such as Canada and Sweden. While climate change receives the blame for this migration, overpopulation, corruption, gang violence, racial tensions and religious differences play a major role. The developed World can reduce emissions as population sizes are stable or declining but if flooded by migrants then reducing emissions will be the equivalent of trying to dig a hole in quicksand.

  6. Stewart Duncan // May 2, 2019 at 4:41 AM // Reply

    This is so sadly wrong. Greta Thunberg has a variety of mental issues and has been manipulated and used in the false climate change scenario. Besides, even healthy 16yo don’t make policy for adults on how the world works or how it should be run. Anyway, look up Greta’s health issues. They are significant.

    • Mel Rothenburger // May 2, 2019 at 7:18 AM // Reply

      I’m surprised you would even bring this up. Greta Thunberg has Asperger syndrome, a fact she freely talks about. Listen to this articulate, intelligent young person speak about climate change and you cannot help but be inspired.

    • She has “mental issues” and you Stewart Duncan makes an issue of that? Sad and silly really!

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