While hordes of learners and youth showed up supporting greater protection of the environment in the biggest worldwide strike of its kind ever to take place, there was one town that did not manage to garner as much manpower. One lonely protester, sixth-grader Ariel Ehlers, was the only one to attend the climate strike in the conservative town of os Chinchilla in Queensland, Australia. This is a sharp contrast to some towns and cities where protesters have appeared in the thousands to fight against corporate and legal inaction regarding the Earth, global warming, and climate change. This is particularly problematic since Chinchilla is the center of the country’s largest seam gas fields.
Her moving tale first went viral when environmental enthusiasts Drew Hutton took to Facebook’s social media platform to draw attention to Ariel’s courageous act. After all, in a conservative town where even the adults around her don’t seem to care much about the environment, it can be daunting to be the only one stepping forward.
Uploading a photograph of her tiny but significant act of resistance, Drew said: “In my old home town of Chinchilla one grade six student, Ariel Ehlers, carried out a one-person climate strike. What a champion! Chinchilla is the center of the biggest coal seam gas fields in the country.”
Others also commended her easy yet efficient courageous act. Toni Le Strange commented: “Ariel, you’re an amazing girl! What an inspiration to others—you should be so very proud of being brave enough to stand up for your beliefs and principles. I have great admiration for your courage.”
Ariel’s now called Chinchilla’s Greta Thunberg. As Anne Vanessa Kennedy noted, “Absolutely! Our Greta Thunberg and our inspiration.”
While approximately 300,000 Australians rose to the occasion and took part in the global climate strike, about the whole problem Chinchilla was on the fence. After all, the city primarily includes skeptics of climate change who have profoundly benefited from the coal boom. However, one can see a much darker and more tragic underbelly when looking at the after-effects of this boom.
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WE’RE HERE FOR THE GRANDCHILDREN. #climatestrike #climatestrikeaustralia #climatejustice Today, people all over the world are holding a #climatestrike for climate justice. We stand for a future of global systemic change not for a future of climate change. Here are some powerful individuals of Queensland demanding justice from our government. There is no planet B.
Chinchilla was a “quiet little town” prior to the oil boom, according to a research study undertaken by The University of Queensland. Due to an influx of coal mine employees, housing prices in the region rose in an unprecedented way between 2005 and 2006. Moreover, the population of the city jumped by a whopping 19 percent from 2008 to 2012—only to reduce quickly once again when employment started to dry up after major coal seam gas projects moved from construction to export phases.
While Australia’s government is largely conservative, there is hope that the country will be able to slow down global warming and build a better future for its children with enough lobbying from dedicated climate activists like Ariel.