Dozens of Joplin-area residents rallied Friday morning in front of City Hall to join a wave of protesters across the globe seeking action on climate change.
Carrying signs that read "People Before Profit" and "There's No Planet B on Amazon," those in attendance said they wanted to stand up for the planet and the changes to global temperatures, sea levels and natural disasters from man-made climate change, the effects of which scientists have said will grow worse unless plans to curb its spread are implemented immediately.
"Every day, the time to mitigate it shortens," said Lindsay Conrad, a Galena, Kansas, resident who brought her three young children with her. "This is to bring awareness to everybody that we need to make some changes or we won't make it out of this."
Conrad said rising carbon dioxide emissions are among the biggest threats, warming global temperatures and contributing to the melting of polar ice caps. She said initiatives to slow climate change are good, but she believes corporations and governments across the world aren't doing enough to address the issue.
"We need to go further," she said. "We need to change to renewable energy and become more of a community so the community is taking care of each other."
Adam Weber, a senior at Joplin High School, skipped class Friday morning to attend the rally.
"I wanted to be here instead of school because this really means a lot to me," he said. "It should mean a lot to every person on Earth."
Like Conrad, he urged big corporations and governments across the globe to get involved in the fight against climate change.
"I'd like to see these employers, CEOs, politicians and others with power actually take a vested interested in climate change, and I don't know if that's going to happen if we don't do more stuff like this," he said.
Taylor Cunningham, of Joplin, said one consequence of climate change could be a rise in natural disasters. She cited numerous natural disasters that made headlines over the summer, including Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and on the U.S. East Coast as well as Tropical Depression Imelda, which is currently causing flooding in parts of Texas.
"I'm really concerned," she said. "We're in Joplin, a city that's defined by natural disaster, and the frequency and intensity of that is only going to increase with climate change."
Cunningham said she was encouraged Friday to take part in a local rally while hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other strikes and protests were going on across the globe. It's that kind of public response, she said, that could make a difference.
"Everybody is going to be impacted by this — Republican or Democrat, rich or poor," she said. "It's a really complex problem, and we're not paying enough attention to it."
She also said she was encouraged by the global turnout of young adults, and she credited Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist from Sweden, for lighting a fire under people.
"We want a different life than this," Cunningham said. "I feel like a lot of older people write young people off, but it is our future."