By Rachel Chu
On September 21, over 400,000 people participated in the NYC People’s Climate March with around 2,600 satellite events in 150 other countries. The turnout for this march was by far the largest for climate change ever and exceeded the March on Washington, which means it was an unprecedented success. Funded by the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, ten Sewanee students, Hannah Glaw (C, ‘16), Zack Loehle (C, ’17), Breaux Tubbs (C, ’18), Ekaterina Kurova, Molly Mansfield (C, ’17), Darby McGlone (C, ’17), Emily Sherwood (C, ’18), Heather Crosby (C, ’16), David Evans (C, ’15), and Rachel Chu (C, ’17), set off on charter buses, accompanied by people from Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee, to take part in the march.
The march was timed to precede the U.N.’s summit on climate change on September 23. The participants aimed to show the heads of state that they know the causes of global climate change, and that the people need legislation in order to change the rapidly increasing effects. They also aimed to show people around the world that everyone needs to start paying attention to the science of climate change. Many people still deny the science, which is often attributed to the United States’ consumer-based culture.
Considering the large turnout, the UN members should no longer be able to deny the people their rights to climate justice. America has shown that much of the world demands a legislative response to the effects and causes of climate change, and they have shown their power in numbers. They chanted, “United Nations can’t you see that there is no Planet B!”
The turnout for the march included communists, anarchists, socialists, democrats, unions, feminists, children, vegans, etc. TV screens were provided next to the march playing slideshows of people showing support from all over the world. It was overwhelming and moving to be around so many passionate people who are trying to be heard.
Loehle remarked, “It was incredibly powerful to see a physical manifestation of a movement that is normally very dispersed, and also undergoes a lot of misplaced skepticism.”
People cheered for the marchers from all sides, even some of the volunteer security guards. Some signs said “I don’t want to die,” and “I can’t breathe” and “fossil fuels are ancient history.” The range of different climate change issues was diverse: from fracking to the pollution of the Arctic.
The effects of climate change will continue to get worse even if humans stop everything they’re doing wrong now. It is students’ responsibility to reduce the effects and reduce the rate of climate change. If the youth don’t begin changing the cultural and social norms that contribute to climate change, their children, families, and futures will be affected. Students are privileged to have access to this knowledge and information, and now they should learn as much as they can in order to change the future