By MONA OSMER
This was not for the future, this was for today.
At 4 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21, more than 50 University of Mary Washington students boarded a charter bus en route to the People’s Climate March, NYC.
Nearly 400,000 people stepped to the streets Sunday morning for the largest climate change demonstration in history. Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Edward Norton, along with political figures such as Al Gore and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, were also among the many attendees of the event.
The march was designed to target the U.N. climate change summit held Tuesday, Sept. 23 at U.N. headquarters in New York City. Participants in the march sought to make an announcement to members of the U.N. that we, as citizens, will not be satisfied without action and raise awareness for the problems that we face internationally right now, not down the road.
Live feeds of the march’s day of action in cities such as Melbourne, London, Berlin, Bogota, Istanbul, Paris, Rio, Delhi, Johannesburg, Lagos and Amsterdam streamed during the New York City march as people urged the U.S. government to lead the initiative on climate change.
I stood as my UMW community cried out, “This is what democracy looks like,” and watched as people all over the country assembled to fight an issue that exists now and is disregarded by many.
“It is sad that we had to march today,” freshman history and Spanish double major Nicholas Kniska said, who marched for climate awareness.
In agreement to this, junior psychology major Michael Middleton said he was walking because “climate change is real and important and it is time we did something about it.”
The march was organized by more than 1,500 groups and spearheaded by 350.org, the same upstart climate activist group that has turned the proposed Keystone XL pipeline into a political nightmare for President Barack Obama by rallying throughout the building process.
Activists mounted a massive effort to spread the word and attract the public. They distributed more than one million flyers around New York City and chartered nearly 500 buses to bring people from around the country to the event.
From California to North Carolina, people flooded the streets of NYC and made their voice known.
Our university has had the chance to be a part of history. The U.N. will have its chance to do the right thing, and I strongly suggest they do.
As senior creative writing and history double major Nate Levine said, “I am about to inherit this world, quite literally, as I graduate college and enter the workforce, and I refuse to accept a world of habitat destruction, of ocean garbage patches the size of Texas, of mass extinction and melting ice caps, of co2 levels exceeding pre-historic levels … I refuse to accept the false notion that we can do nothing because it is too expensive or because we don’t have the technology.”
In June 2013, Obama announced a plan to cut carbon pollution, including directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish new emission standards for active coal plants in the U.S., and working with other countries, including China and India, two of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, to establish new plans for addressing pollution globally.
The world is changing now, time is running out. It is imperative that legislation such as new emission standards be passed and put in place, domestically and internationally.