Gympie school strike leader tells trolls: 'Do your research'
GYMPIE Year 12 student and Sunshine Coast school climate strike organiser Shellie Joseph has asked vocal critics targeting activists online to "do their research and understand the facts" before making comments.
Miss Joseph organised the local "School Strike 4 Climate" at Perigian yesterday in unison with other student protests in 52 regional centres and capital cities across Australia, as well as a further 30 US states and 24 countries around the world.
The 16-year-old said the rally, enacted with the goal of demanding "intergenerational equity", no Adani Carmichael coal mine, no new coal or gas and 100 per cent renewable energies by 2030, had received a stronger attendance than anticipated.
"It was definitely a success, there were so many more people there than I thought, and the whole event went really smoothly," Miss Joseph said.
"The vibe was perfect, no-one got too rowdy and everyone protested respectfully like we asked. There was no vulgar language or anything like that.
"We had a sign on sheet to get an idea of how many people came, but we ran out of those pretty quick. From what we've been able to gather so far we think there were about 1500 people at the event.
"It wasn't just students. Parents and grandparents were there and keen to support us too, which was amazing."
Often the indirect subject of online criticism bordering on vitriol in the lead-up to the protest, Miss Joseph said she initially found the comments "humorous" until they became "hurtful".
She said her family and friends had also been affected by the "nasty" negativity and had some advice for social media commentators.
"I think people forget what they're saying is about another person," she said.
"I would say people should be more aware, do their research and understand the facts before they comment.
"These are not religious beliefs, this is science, this is fact, and the government knows it's a fact.
"Listen to what scientific communities and learned scholars around the world are saying. There are scientific bodies publishing piles of research. The CSIRO would be a great place to start if people want to find out more.
"Read reliable internet sources and books. It's not hard. We don't pretend to know everything, we're not trying to say we're geniuses, we're out here protesting a problem that is important to us."
Miss Joseph said she and her fellow organisers had received no such negativity from peers in local schools, even those opposed to the strike and the reasons for it.
Now a volunteer for the Australian Climate Youth Coalition, Miss Joseph said the protest leaders had been buoyed by Friday's response and would look at further action in future, but not before she takes some time to "focus on school".
"This is a huge global event, and we'll keep going. Thanks to everyone who came, this was the biggest environmental action we've ever had at a local level so far for a single event."
"Everyone was overwhelmed and touched by the response," she said.