More than 100 students, faculty and community members held signs protesting climate change at Amity Plaza Friday, Sept. 20th. Students, faculty and Plattsburgh residents gathered to attend the Climate Strike that was happening globally. William DeHaven, a senior environmental science major and president of the Environmental Action Committee, organized this event.
“I think it’s too easy for us to live our lives and pretend like it’s not happening,” DeHaven said. “Everyone knows the nature of the crisis, but I don’t think people really have a grasp on the disparity of it,”
Students at the strike spoke about concerns pertaining to their future that may not be promised due to the environment changing for the worse. Future plans are given second thoughts because of the earth’s current state.
“A future that I’m planning for my life isn’t necessarily promised,” junior English literature major Abigail Reichert said. “What’s the point of me being in college or wanting to have kids and have a life when it’s not even necessarily gonna be the same as how past generations have had it? I think that’s the scariest,” Reichert said.
Reichert said this issue not only affects her, it affects other people possibly in worse ways due to racial and class divides.
“I have privilege. I’m in a position where [climate change] is not necessarily going to affect me as bad as it’s going to affect some other people,” Reichert said. “It’s not just the climate issue, it’s not going to affect everyone equally. It’s a class problem. It’s a race problem. It incorporates all different issues.”
Senior environmental studies major Tim Nolan also agreed with Reichert and explained how there are already climate refugees entering the United States. He questioned how the country will deal with this because it can barely handle the refugees that are already here.
“The thing that scares me the most is seeing what the effects will bring out in people and what people are going to be willing to excuse and ignore,” Nolan said.
There are people who deny that climate change exists or that people can have an effect on improving the environment. Reichert said it encompasses so many other problems and this connects to some people who may be receiving the worst end of the stick in the future.
“We’re already intolerant. People are already accepting of these camps on the border, just mass internment camps and everybody’s just OK with that. The things that they will be OK with in the future when it actually is bad, that is horrifying,” Nolan said.
People at the strike spoke about this and the problem of the United States government’s inaction towards changing policies that will help improve life on earth. Climate strike protesters made clear that people cannot just attend rallies like this one, that one needs to vote because as much as people can protest about climate change, actual policy needs to be changed.
“Environmental justice goes really far past climate justice,” DeHaven said. “Even if you are willing to say that climate change isn’t real, there’s a whole hoax of other environmental issues that are irrefutable and demand attention like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan or in Pennsylvania and acid rain. That’s just clearly happening and having visual effects on the landscape.”
The climate strike united people together to confront the dangers of our climate and to encourage people to be politically and socially aware, so that they can bring real change to the country
“Get registered to vote. Make plans, submit an application for an absentee ballot,” DeHaven said. “This is the fight of our lifetime, and we are months away from being able to take one of the most impactful steps that we can in the next decade for our country and our democracy.”