Protesters Brave the Cold for Climate Change Strike

Photo by Amayah Spence

Our world is in danger, and time is running out. 

These words from a Facebook event rallied a climate strike in the Town and Village of New Paltz last week. This follow up to the Sept. 20 international climate strike sought to draw attention towards climate change issues, which have become a hot-button political issues across the U.S.

The demographic of protestors were diverse, ranging from young students from Lenape Elementary School to college students and numerous residents from the local community. Many met on Dec. 5, at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, to craft clever signs for the event. The following day, dozens gathered in front of the SUNY New Paltz Humanities building to rally before the march. 

“The world, as we know it, is burning and drowning and crumbling,” said Mikayla Dablan, a co-founder of the strike. “Here we are banded together to create a platform, a basis, a place from which this grows bigger than ever before.”

The crowd then began to proceed through the campus with roaring chants and signs held above their heads. Their signs bore punch slogans like “Funeral For Our Future,” “Science Not Silence” and “The Enemy Is Profit, Together We’ll Stop It.” 

“The earth, the earth, the earth is on fire. We don’t need no oil let the corporations burn.,” the crowd shouted.

“Get up, get down, get fossil fuels out of town.”

As the protest leaked on to S. Manheim Boulevard, the line of protestors gained volume from a crowd of middle and high school students demonstrating in front of the New Paltz Middle School. The crowd marches up Main Street until meeting their final destination in front of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s regional office on S. Putt Corners Road. There, musical performances were held, including the “Resisterhood” women’s choir and attendees made speeches. 

“We need systematic change,” said fourth-year New Paltz Socialists member Kieran Cavanagh. “Ultimately that cannot happen in a profit-driven, crisis-prone system like capitalism.” 

Much of the controversy surrounding climate change issues stem from the Trump administration’s efforts to rollback environmental efforts. According to an article published by The New York Times in September, more than 80 environmental regulations have been squashed or are on their way out under Trump. He stopped requiring oil and gas companies to report methane emissions, according to a 2017 press release from the Environmental Protection Agency, which is an important tool in tracking contributions to climate change. Trump also signed two executive orders in April to speed along the construction of oil and natural gas pipelines between states and across international borders, according to the Times. 

The U.S. Global Exchange Research program lists numerous negative impacts of climate change on American society. Rising temperatures have caused glacial melting and rising water levels. This can be especially problematic in coastal communities, which suffer severe flood and storm damages as a result. Climate change has also been attributed to the massive wildfires that have ravaged California, causing massive blackouts and destroying numerous homes. 

“Our connection to mother Earth [is] founded by our blood, our very DNA,” Dablan said. “We will go down fighting for her.”