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A Rally in Words and Pictures
by Susan Hellauer
An exuberant crowd of about 100 Rockland County students—dotted with supportive parents, local officials, and grown-up environmental activists—listened to speeches, chanted, and marched for climate action at Nyack’s Veteran’s Park at noon last Friday. They were part of a national movement, the US Youth Climate Strike, which is affiliated with the international Fridays for Future initiative sparked by Swedish student Greta Thunberg.
Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist, began her lone school strikes last year. She stationed herself in front of the Swedish Parliament every Friday, demanding aggressive action to address human-made climate change. Thunberg’s quest has quickly spread among students around the world. She confronted world leaders at the World Economic Forum in January, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Swedish political party.
The March 15 Nyack event was led by students from Nyack High School, but also attracted demonstrators from other area schools, including Tappan Zee and Clarkstown South High Schools, Nyack Middle School, Ramapo College, Rockland Community College, the Blue Rock School in West Nyack, and the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge.
Student protesters warm up with a march and a chant: “No more coal, no more oil. Keep that carbon in the soil!” Local climate activist Lorien Barlow (with megaphone) exhorted the crowd to live out their rallying cries and embrace a low-carbon lifestyle at home.
Lorien Barlow (right) introduced Clarkstown South High School student Ray Smith (left), who wants the Mario Cuomo Bridge shared use path to be open 24/7: “It is important that we encourage the use of bikes and our legs. We are no longer asking. We are demanding that Rockland County go green.”
Lamont-Doherty professor and environmental expert William D’Andrea leaves no doubt about the science behind climate change: “In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson reported to Congress that carbon dioxide emissions were going to cause global warming. That’s 50 years ago, and the science has been settled for a long time. But what has stood in the way of action on global warming? People have not been vocal enough. It’s you, your children, and your grandchildren who will suffer the consequences. It’s on you to make the social changes happen. You have to use your choices, your voices, and, soon, your votes.” D’Andrea will be part of the Nyack News and Views Climate Science Conversations on April 2. (See Learn more, below, to register.)
Co-president of the Nyack High School Environmental Club (and rally drummer) Lucinda Carroll leads protesters onto Main Street after addressing the crowd: “We hold accountable those who shamelessly profit off the degradation of the environment.” She echoed Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s call to action: “Now is the time to feel fear for our future, but it is also a time to feel angry. We will use our fear and harness our anger to demand that action be taken.”
Students end their rally with a march on Main Street.
- US Youth Climate Strike website at youthclimatestrikeus.org
- “Life on a Carbon Budget” (4/18/18, Nyack News and Views)
- Find out more about the science behind human-induced climate change, and a “low-carbon vision of the good life” at the Nyack News and Views Climate Science conversations on April 2 and April 16. Register at NyackKnows.com
Greta Thunberg, climate-crisis Joan of Arc, addresses the 2019 World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland:
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Earth Matters, a weekly feature that focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living, is sponsored by Maria Luisa Boutique, Dying to Bloom, Strawtown Studio, and Summer Play Camp at Blue Rock School.