Contributed by Don McNeil, Upper School Science faculty member and Faculty Advisor to the Environmental Club
A couple of our students and faculty (and even alumni) participated in the People’s Climate March in midtown Manhattan on Sunday, Sept. 21. It was a major event, organized by a coalition of environmental groups including 350.org (whose founder, Bill McKibben, is one of the best known climate activists in the world and stood for a photo with Environmental Club Co-President Clement Wong ‘15), with an attendance estimated at 300,000 – 400,000. One goal of the march was to show the large group of international leaders and heads of state meeting that week at the UN that there is strong public support for action to prevent climate change. We marched with a group from the Green Schools Alliance (of which D-E is a member), a national organization of high schools that have pledged to decrease their carbon footprints and educate their students about environmental issues, who are also the organizers of the Green Cup Challenge.
It was exciting and inspiring to see the huge number of people at the march, and to know that our small but enthusiastic D-E contingent was part of this great movement. President Obama referred to the marchers in his speech on climate change to the UN two days later, so the voices were heard. The rest of the D-E community learned about the march from those who attended, so it added to campus awareness of climate change issues. We all now understand even more how D-E campus efforts to lower our carbon footprint, such as the annual Green Cup Challenge, are an important part of a national and global movement. It was also great to share our time at the march with Michelle Aboodi ‘12 as she continues her environmental efforts in college.
Here are some quotes from a few of the walkers:
Lauren Aboodi ‘15, Co-President of the Environmental Club:
I was incredibly impressed by the over 300,000 marchers who came from all walks of life. There were young children, students and activists from numerous organizations. Having such a large turnout for an event like this shows how truly important climate legislation is to our society. Personally, I marched because I wanted to speak out for climate action. This was one way for people to get their voices out there and express to world leaders what we feel our planet deserves.
Clement Wong ‘15, Co-President of the Environmental Club:
It was interesting and life-changing to march with such a large number of dedicated members of our community who strongly demonstrate their passion on the urgent issue of climate change. Chanting and walking with these people, most of whom were around my age, excited and inspired me to be even more courageous and bold [in taking charge] with environmental initiatives at Dwight-Englewood.
Michelle Aboodi ‘12, three-year President of the Environmental Club:
I felt a sense of camaraderie and enthusiasm for a singular cause – the protection and conservation of Mother Earth. Seeing people from different parts of my life — D-E, NYU, ClimateMama (the organization I work for), NYC and so on — made me proud to be a part of such a vital cause. Meeting people who came from all over the country and the world was so empowering, because everyone had their own personal stories about and feelings on climate change, policy and how to lead a sustainable life. I am excited to not only see how we will grow from such a strong movement of 400,000+ people but also, more importantly, be a part of it!
John Deal, Upper School English faculty member:
There’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind that climate change is the defining, existential crisis of our time. A lot of people probably agree, but wonder what they can do about it. There are a lot of different answers to that question, but one of them is showing up at rallies like the People’s Climate March and adding your voice to the hundreds of thousands of others demanding action. I was heartened to see so many people from across the country and across the world, a lot of them students, assembled to make clear their love of the planet and fear for the danger it’s in. And I hope to see all of you reading this at the next march, and the one after that, and the one after that. After all, climate change affects every last one of us, whether we stay home wringing our hands or lace up our shoes and get out there to demand a real response from our leaders.