By: Jenifer Valmon
On Sept. 21, 2014, New York City hosted one of the many People’s Climate March happening around the world. Considered the largest march in history, an estimated four hundred thousand people processed from 86th street to 34th street, in New York City, including fifty thousand students, according to the Peoples Climate website.
Colorful handmade signs and banners littered the hands of marchers with messages reading, “wake up and smell the pollution, extinction is not success and bring your own bags.”
Support for climate reforms ranged from Buddhist and Christian organizations to medical union, 1199, and thousands of families and friends unifying for change. A large number of these groups gathered in front of the Time Warner Cable building, at 10 Columbus Circle, to rally with chants, songs and prayer.
Organizers created a chart designating sections of the line up to specific groups with people at the “front line” of the crisis first in line, families, students and elders second, scientist second to last and the LGBTQ, NYC boroughs and community groups ending the march.
“You’re going to come up with ridiculous categorizations,” said John Jay Professor Elizabeth Yukins, regarding the arrangement of sections.
Yukins, part of the English Department at John Jay, and director of the college women’s center, attended the march with her partner, 10-year-old son and five year old daughter. Yukins chose her family’s position based on the best place for her children to endure then two-hour wait to march.
Fracking and CO2 emissions are two of the topics at the forefront of the debate. Hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, is blamed for many negative environmental effects, including earthquakes and lack of clean air.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. CO2 emissions derive from the use of coal as fuel to create energy and are believed to be one of the main causes of global warming and extreme weather by environmental groups.
The Energy in Depth campaign, started by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, credits Fracking for the decrease in CO2 emissions in the United States.
This is what concerned Pamela Carrillo and Krystal Inesti, both 19 year old Nassau Community College students, who heard of the event from Facebook. After watching a video on the dangers of CO2 emissions, they decided to get involved.
“This is our home, we’re taking advantage but it’s really going to hurt us in the long run,” said Carrillo of abusing natural resources. Both Carrillo and Inesti’s were armed with signs calling for action to bring a stop to the abuse of natural resources. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need not every man’s greed,” read Inesti’s sign.
Global warming and extreme weather affects the sustainability of underdeveloped countries that depend on agriculture to survive.
Though industrially developed countries are usually responsible for the degradation of the ecosystem, the poorest countries suffer the consequence, ranging from reduced crop yields, rising sea levels and altered rain fall, according to the Inter Action website.
John Jay is not behind on the environmental discussion. The college recently started the new minor and program, Sustainability and Environmental Justice, started by Professor Joan Hoffman, now headed by professor Alexander Schlutz.
The 18-credit program includes courses on global catastrophe and human responsibility, environmental crime as well as environmental racism. According to the programs web page, the minor hopes to educate students on the importance of conserving environmental resources and natural balance for future generations.
The college also has an environmental club. Students can join by contacting Professor Swanson. Students involved with the program also attended the march.
“Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable and stick with it for things you believe in, there is a purpose and a productivity to that…the wait was not pleasant but there was something to be learned from that experience,” said Yukins of the lesson her children received from the march.