As people have become more and more educated on our current climate crisis, concern surrounding the future of our planet is increasing. However, some of the factors hindering the enactment of pivotal climate change policies include the idea that people do not believe in climate change, or that the majority of them do not know how to get involved and make a difference in the daunting task of saving the environment.
Thankfully, the Global Climate Strike, an efficient way to help raise awareness about the climate crisis, is coming to Lewisburg on Sept. 20, 2019.
What is the Global Climate Strike?
The Global Climate Strike is a movement “demand[ing] an end to the age of fossil fuels and climate justice for everyone,” according to the Sunrise Movement website. The organization began with millions of local school climate strikes, during which students left their classrooms every Friday to demonstrate how strongly they felt about implementing environmental changes. While these strikes did help raise awareness towards their cause, these climate change advocates are seeking to involve more people through organizing the Global Climate Strike.
On Sept. 20, strikers everywhere will walk out — walk out of homes, offices, factories, and schools — to protest against humanity’s current treatment of the Earth and its resources. The Global Climate Strike hopes to not only raise more awareness about climate change’s effects but also wishes to “demand climate justice for everyone” through stopping the “burning [of] fossil fuels and ensur[ing] a rapid energy revolution,” as stated the Sunrise Movement website.
Purposefully, the date of the strike was set for Sept. 20, 2019, because the date falls three days before the United Nations’ Climate Change Summit in New York. In holding the strike so close to the UN Climate Change Summit, the Global Climate Strike organization is hoping to influence the decisions made in the UN’s summit.
Solidarity in Lewisburg
Sarah Wochele ’19, who is involved in the local Global Climate Strike movement and Lewisburg’s upcoming solidarity strike, explained that the strike aims to dismantle the idea that citizens of the Earth can continue to negatively impact the environment and not consider the consequences.
“Business as usual is no longer an option,” Wochele said. “We are demanding climate justice and climate action and that means waking people up here at [the University] and in Lewisburg to the necessity of such changes, implementation, [and] action.”
In addition, the strike intends to make improvements in the University’s Strategic Plan and for the immediate action of the environmentally-friendly policies already implemented. The fourth strategic commitment of the University’s Strategic Plan, titled “Creating a Sustainable Future,” is one example of an eco-friendly policy already installed. In summary, this section states that the University will pursue sustainable efforts relating, but not limited to: energy usage and sourcing, biodiversity and natural habitats, and waste minimization and recycling. The University will also continue its goal of being a carbon-neutral institution by 2030.
The protesters expect climate change improvements not only on the University’s campus but also in the local community. Wochele said that they “are hoping that [the] Lewisburg Borough will step up to take action and outline concrete steps towards sustainability for the future.”
Why did Wochele get involved?
Wochele reflected that she has always embodied a passion for environmental issues and the recognition that these issues spread much deeper than only saving the planet. “For me, these issues are also spiritual in nature: the climate crisis and the environmental destruction we have seen are perfect exemplars of the interconnection of all things,” Wochele said. “Nothing truly happens in isolation. You cannot put a pipeline down without affecting people, animals, natural systems, etc. Thus, for me, striking locally is important because it acknowledges the role we play in the greater picture — at a state, national, and global level.”
As inspiration for her work, Wochele remembers the efforts of average people who have bravely stood up against injustices and the upcoming generation’s potential to continue the environmental fight.
“I hope a strike here will inspire others — especially young people — to realize the power they have to do something about these issues,” Wochele said. “It is really important to the groups organizing this strike, Green New Deal Lewisburg and our local chapter of Climate Reality Project, that youth feel inspired by this movement! We want to hear their voices in all of this and we feel it is extremely important to help create a supportive platform for this to happen.”
Where? What? When?
On campus, the strike will begin at 11:30 a.m. in front of Bertrand Library and will march to Hufnagle Park to hear a speech from Judith Wagner, the Mayor of the Lewisburg Borough, in response to the strike’s call for sustainable initiatives.
Who’s Leading it in Lewisburg?
The Green New Deal group will be leading the strike in the local Lewisburg community. The group began as a part of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey’s 10-year plan to promote 100 percent green and renewable energy in America. Stemmed from the Sunrise Movement, the Green New Deal program shares several of the same goals and values as their parent movement. According to their website, the Sunrise Movement is “ an army of young people, [inspiring] to make climate change an urgent priority across America” by “end[ing] the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect[ing] leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.”
Some of the Green New Deal’s goals are to: achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, create millions of high-wage jobs and ensure economic security for all U.S. citizens, create sustainable solutions to current challenges through investments, secure clean necessities (air, healthy food, and water) for all U.S. citizens and for generations to come and promote justice through stopping oppression of historically oppressed people.
The Green New Deal group believes through saving the environment society itself can be saved as well. The Lewisburg chapter of the Green New Deal upholds these same morals and goals.
Upcoming Green New Deal Events:
The Green New Deal Lewisburg chapter will hold other events surrounding climate crisis support. Upcoming events include a home composting workshop (Sept. 21 at the Lewisburg Community Garden), a free viewing of “ From Paris to Pittsburg” (Sept. 23 at the Union County Library) and ACT NOW! (Sept. 27 at Susquehanna University).
The Green New Deal group intends for the strike on Sept. 20 to be the first of many, with future strikes planned for November and on Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. More information on the Green New Deal Group and their events can be found on their Facebook page.