Rutgers participates in nation’s largest climate march
A wall of scarlet red corralled itself into New York Penn Station yesterday and then marched into New York City, chanting, “We are the people. This is our planet.”
More than 150 University students joined more than 310,000 other people from more than 1,000 organizations, universities and other institutions in New York City for the largest climate march in America’s history.
Among those who attended the march were Dean Judith Storch of the School of Environmental of Environmental and Biological Sciences, David Hughes, professor in the Department of Anthropology and Ban-Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.
The “People’s Climate March” hopes to encourage world leaders at the United Nations to take more definitive action on climate change and its related problems than they have done at present, said Atid Kimelman, field organizer for the Energy Action Coalition, one of the groups coordinating the event.
“One of the major inspirations [for this march] was the UN Climate Summit 2014 that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for,” he said in an email.
The UN Summit on Climate Change will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 23, two days after the march, he said.
The Rutgers Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign and the Students for Environmental Awareness organized the University collective, said Shane Patel, president of the RFFDC.
The march hopes to reach international political heads, he said, including those who would not be attending the summit Tuesday.
The collective also hopes to reach the Rutgers community, he said. In addition to University professors and students, the RFFDC hopes to reach the Governor’s Board of Trustees and encourage the board to divest from fossil fuels.
While divesting would not hurt the companies that produce fossil fuels, it will show them how seriously the University is taking the issue, he said.
“We’d like to see the Board of Governors divest, but that’s a vehicle for raising awareness,” he said. “It’s a vehicle for voicing people with legitimate concerns.”
Another group the RFFDC plans to reach are those who believe climate change is an insurmountable problem, he said.
“I hope they see there’s a lot of people that really care,” he said. “And I hope the decision makers at Rutgers understand this is truly something the community cares about.”
Alexander Toke, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said he wants to demonstrate to the world that climate change is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer.
Using money is one of the main ways decisions get made in government, he said. But using one’s voice is more important to democracy, and the march enables people to try to get their voices heard.
It is important Rutgers plays a role in affecting climate change, Toke said.
“Rutgers is one of the most prestigious research universities in the country,” he said. “We are an enlightened community of scholars, and we should represent that by being at the march.”
More awareness needs to be brought to climate change, said Beverly Chiu, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. The issue is more pressing than most realize.
Chiu, a geology major, said people living in New Jersey should especially be concerned with climate change and its effects, such as the rise of sea levels.
“I’ve been trying to project what sea levels will be at soon,” she said. “It’s going to be higher.”
Storms like Sandy are another effect of climate change, she said. Hurricanes of that magnitude in New Jersey should be something people care about.
Saad Shamshair, School of Arts and Sciences senior, said people should be informed of the severity of climate change because it is causing some disparities in the weather.
“Ruthlessly enabling climate change is truly a moral issue,” Patel said.