Girl, 12, only climate protester in drought stricken town
SHE may have been the only school student holding a cardboard sign in Chinchilla, but yesterday Ariel Ehlers was among tens of thousands of children Australia-wide lending their voice to the Strike 4 Climate Action initiative.
Climate Strike volunteers suggest about 30,000 people marched in a procession stretching nearly two kilometres through the Brisbane CBD, joining an expected 1 million global participants in the School Strike 4 Climate actions.
In spite of calls from Education Minister Grace Grace for students to protest "in their own time", rather than skipping class during regular school hours, thousands of school-age children joined adults as the protest converged at Queens Gardens and slowly moved through the city.
Year six Chinchilla State School student, Ariel, has become quite the little internet sensation over the past 24 hours, with several high profile media outlets taking notice of her solo strike outside the Western Downs Regional Council service centre on Heeney St in Chinchilla yesterday.
After Ariel's mother Claudia Ehlers shared a picture of her daughter striking on social media, Senator for New South Wales and Greens member Mehreen Saeed Faruqi commented "Claudia this is so cool. Let your daughter know we are with her all the way."
Another woman commented "maybe alone on the ground, but definitely supported by 1000s."
The 12-year-old told Chinchilla News she hoped her actions would prompt other students around the Western Downs region to become more interested in the affects of climate change and the impact each person has on the environment.
"I did a PowerPoint presentation for my class a few weeks ago to discuss with them how climate change is already having a big impact on everyone's future," Ariel said.
"I discussed lots of different ways we can all help contribute towards supporting the environment and reducing our carbon footprint."
A keen cyclist Ariel said her family try to leave the car at home as much as possible and opt for pedal power instead.
"I'm also a really big fan of op-shopping because it saves you money and helps the environment at the same time," she said.
Ariel opted to miss all the fun and games of her last day of term, also known at Chinchilla State School as "Celebration Day" to stand outside the Chinchilla WDRC service centre yesterday afternoon to advocate for climate action because she said she's concerned about the future the current politicians are leaving her generation.
"I am pretty worried about what kind of world we're going to be living in when I am an adult.
"I decided to come down and join in the protest today even though I'm from a small town a long way from Brisbane, I knew I could still do something to make my stand for climate action.
"Even though the Western Downs council is just a small local part of our country's government, they can still make a big difference. We can all make a big difference if we choose to make a stand together."