Climate March encourages action, change


The People’s Climate March caused thousands to flood the streets of Manhattan on Sunday in preparation for the United Nations Climate Summit 2014. Protestors filled the streets, donning homemade t-shirts and carrying banners that demanded more attention for the growing problem of climate change. Signs that read “Change the Politics, not the Climate” and “Flood Wall Street” expressed protestors’ frustration with current politicians’ seemingly apathetic, slow response to the threat of climate change.

The United Nations Summit, which took place on Sept. 23, was organized with the intent to finally address the issue. Leaders from around the world in areas such as business, politics and education were invited to the event to help increase awareness of a potential global agreement that may be reached at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015. In short, they are at least trying to get the ball rolling.

The record-breaking march, which drew a crowd estimated to be upward of 310,000, consisted of participants from many different backgrounds. These included marching bands, labor union members, students, teachers, politicians and even numerous celebrities who walked the march’s two-mile route. This New York City march was the largest of nearly 160 similar marches that have occurred around the globe, from places like the U.K. to Afghanistan to Australia.

Kristiana Barr, ’16, the president of Green Action, was one of the many Lehigh students who attended Sunday’s march. Barr said she was mostly impressed by the number of people there.

The range of people in attendance was such that it shows the issue of climate change is no longer a fringe, radical environmentalist concern; it affects everyone,” Barr said. 

The main slogan of the People’s Climate March was “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone.” Barr embraces this philosophy, and she said it is one of the main reasons why she participated in the march.

“We need everyone to change everything, which is the case when it comes to domestic and foreign legislation,” she said. “Not just broad spectrum goals and targets…but realistic policies aimed at jumpstarting a sustainable economy and a new, healthier world in the best interest of everyone and everything.”    

So how does the current climate problem affect the Lehigh community, and how can we encourage more students to get involved in the fight against it? Evan Eckersley, ’17, an avid supporter of initiatives to combat climate change, believes the first step is making students more aware of what climate change actually is and how it will affect students’ lives in the future.

“Most people are uninformed when it comes to climate change,” Eckersley said. “And it is one of the most threatening issues. Small rises in temperature will cause further melting of polar ice caps and thermal expansion of the oceans, leading to submersion of coastal areas where a large portion of today’s world lives.”

Jennifer Liu, ’17, who attended the march, said its number of participants encouraged her to learn more about the detrimental issue.

“I know global warming is a big issue, so I decided to go to the march to check it out,” Liu said. “But when I saw how many people were actually there, I realized it’s something I want to be more involved in.”

But Lehigh has little hope of hosting a protest of 300,000 people just to get more students’ attention. So what can be done? According to Jennifer Bateman, ’17, the solution is not as hard as it seems.

“People respond to things that scare them,” Bateman said. “Climate change will eventually lead to the end of the Earth if we don’t take steps to fix it. Once everyone understands that, surely we can address the problem together and fix it.”

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