by Elena Schwartz
The People’s Climate March took place Sunday, September 21, two days before world leaders, including president Barack Obama, attended a climate summit at the United Nations. Millions of people gathered to attend over 2,600 rallies in 162 countries around the world to call for government action addressing climate change, according to the People’s Climate March website.
In New York City, 400,000 people gathered to participate in the march. Among them were students from this school.
Senior Liam Wilcox Warren joined marchers with his parents and other Newton residents. He described the atmosphere as “very positive and hopeful.”
Senior Kerry Brock and junior Natalie Cohen were also present. Cohen and Brock represented the Student-Organized Climate Action Network (SOCAN), a coalition of high school climate organizations that Brock started over the summer, as well as the Alliance for Climate Education, a nonprofit dedicated to informing high school students of the science behind climate change.
The previous week, SOCAN had an “art build” to make signs and posters to carry during the march, which they brought to New York to “add to the huge sea of signs and organizations,” said Cohen. Members marched in the youth section, along with about 50,000 other college and high school students.
Cohen called this experience “incredibly powerful — there were so many of us who clearly cared about the environment for a variety of reasons, and all of us were working to stop climate change in various ways personally.”
Seeing the variety of people in different sections of the march, which stretched miles down Central Park West, also deeply resonated with Cohen.
“The first section of the march was called the ‘Frontlines of Crisis, Forefronts of Change’ section, and it included people who were directly affected by climate change and pollution disasters,” she said. “Many of these people were victims of oil spills and factory pollution disasters, and they were joined by the leaders of the climate justice movement. These people really made me think about why I was there and who we were fighting for as a movement. It made the climate crisis, which often seems so far away, seem much more relevant.”
Brock was equally impressed by the march’s atmosphere.
“There is no experience quite like standing beside 300,000 other people, old, young, black, white, students, seniors, and everything in between, all calling for the same thing,” she said. “I have a hard time articulating how powerful that feeling is.”
Brock encouraged students interested in taking serious action on climate change within this community to join Divest Newton, an organization that works to divest Newton from the fossil fuel industry and organizes participation in other events like the march. Students seeking more information or wishing to join the mailing list can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cohen advised students who want to get involved in the cause of stopping climate change to “try to educate themselves on climate change, and spread their knowledge to others.”
“Going to clubs which deal with environmental issues or attending events such as this one can be great ways to learn about climate change and take action,” she said. “Greater numbers can affect greater change.”