USD community takes to the streets in the world’s largest climate march
TAYLER REVIERE VERNINAS
On Sunday, Sept. 21, hundreds of thousands of people around the globe joined in the People’s Climate March to raise awareness for the global climate crisis. The marches, which occurred in 162 different countries, took place two days before the United Nations’ climate summit, where world leaders called for action against climate change.
Approximately 1,500 activists took to the streets of downtown San Diego to participate in the local march. Faculty and students of University of San Diego were in attendance to show their rallying concerns and passions for sustaining the Earth and all of it’s resources.
Dr. Steven Gelb, a professor at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, was one of the several USD faculty that participated in the San Diego march.
Gelb believes many United States citizens do not understand the larger concerns of climate change.
“People are influenced by short-term concerns,” Gelb said. “We as Americans consume and waste a lot more of our resources than we need.”
Gelb believes in being educated on information beyond what students are told by the media.
“Unfortunately, people can make short-term money by keeping people ignorant,” Gelb said. “The media definitely plays into this, partly because it is owned by large corporations who do not really have an interest in seeing things change.”
Gelb thinks that it will take more than an awareness of these issues to create meaningful change.
“At one time, people thought the capacity of the earth was unlimited; that was just a generation ago,” Gelb said. “People believed that the Earth was so vast and nature was so amazing that the Earth could take care of itself. However, that is no longer true.”
Gelb said he was inspired by the amount of young activists who are raising their voices and working in different organizations to help change the planet.
Gelb makes his own contribution to saving the planet by biking 17 miles from his home to work almost every day in an effort to decrease his impact on global climate change.
Senior Sloane Smith also participated in San Diego’s Climate March, along with the Social Justice Living Learning Community.
She was excited to display her passion for social justice.
“I believe climate change is one of the issues that overarches everything,” Smith said. “If we do not have an Earth that is livable than we cannot really do any great work such as equity for different types of groups.”
Smith said that being able to be a part of one of the biggest climate marches in history was definitely a highlight for her, and for other students at USD.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to show our freshman what local activism is in our community,” Smith said.
She said the march brought a diverse group of people together.
“There was so much energy,” Smith said. “What was really interesting were the different types of groups representing different perspectives: environmentalists and special interest groups such as population control.”
Freshman Kyra Anderson also participated with her USD Living Learning Community group at the march.
Anderson loved the experience.
“It was my first time attending a march,” Anderson said. “It was overwhelming because there were so many passionate people chanting and coming together for a good cause.”
At the march, Anderson said she saw some shocking facts on activists’ posters that made her rethink about the ways in which she is contributing to help the environment.
However, not every person has the same perspective regarding climate change. Freshman Alec Volkir acknowledges the scientific evidence, but feels that the crisis is not as pressing as people think.
“I believe that the [warming] trend does exist. There is evidence that deep ocean level water temperatures are increasing slightly,” Volkir said. “As far as the hot term ‘global warming,’ where it is a huge item on the agenda, something that is incredibly drastic and needs to be immediately dealt with, I do not think the trend exists to that extent.”
Volkir said he believes nature is taking its course, but that humans are accelerating the rate through increased carbon emissions.
However, world leaders at the U.N. Climate Summit said the problem is pressing and requires immediate political and social attention.
According to the UNESCO Climate Change Initiative, the most important aspect for an environmental change is education. Organizations such as 350.org, which partnered in promoting the People’s Climate March, have been attempting to build a global climate movement to educate the public about the growing concerns of the planet.
According to scientists, 350 represents the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere that is needed for climate safety. Currently, the Earth is at 400 parts per million.