Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Student Activism Heats Up Post People's Climate March

Climate
Student Activism Heats Up Post People's Climate March

Danica Schaffer-Smith is a PhD student at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Schaffer-Smith is interested in global change ecology, natural resource management and geospatial analysis. Her dissertation research focuses on describing the extent and variability of inland surface waters used by migratory shorebirds in California over approximately 30 years.

Aashay Patel is an undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill.

Ariana Nicholson is a senior high school student at the Carolina Friends School in Durham.

An eerie silence suddenly encompassed the entire Upper West side of Manhattan. With our hands raised in the air, the only thing we could hear was the sound of the helicopter’s wings beating the air above us. As the clock struck one, a distant roar could be heard from what felt like miles behind us. The wave of sound from the roar began to get louder and louder when finally, we all joined in screeching and hollering, ending the moment of silence by sounding an alarm to the world.

400,000 people took to the streets of New York City for the People's Climate March Sept. 21 demanding climate action now. Photo credit: Stefanie Spear

We made the long journey from North Carolina to New York City to show that we refuse to tolerate this any longer, putting aside homework, sleep and social opportunities. We are the generation that has never seen a world at average global temperatures. We are the generation that will lose the most to catastrophic climate disruption, and it’s time we had a voice in what our world decides to do about it.

It can sometimes feel like we, as committed environmentalists, are in the minority and that the cause is hopeless—but the People’s Climate March made it clear that climate change is a mainstream issue. We stood as 400,000 people united for one cause. The combination of big businesses sustaining the fossil fuel industry and the laissez-faire attitude of the world’s governments has gone on for far too long.

This isn’t just about polar bears—it is about all of us and represents one of the major social justice issues of our time. People right here in North Carolina are directly affected by negative impacts from fossil fuel extraction (remember the Duke Energy coal ash spill?). Rising sea levels due to climate change will also displace people from the outer banks of NC, where so many have fond memories of family vacations. It is clear that we need to change the system that is endangering our future on this planet.

The People’s Climate March may be over, but this is just the beginning of making our voices heard. Hot on the heels of the march, the Rockefeller Foundation announced that it would divest its $860 million fund of fossil fuel investments. Pledges from other companies the same day has doubled the value of divestment commitments as compared to January of this year.

Things are heating up in our backyard as well. On Thursday, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees resolved to favor clean energy investments with their $2.2 billion endowment over coal and other fossil fuels. Duke students are hopeful that UNC’s initiative has made their University feel the heat. Duke too can be a leader in this movement and reflect the university’s stated goals for sustainability by investing in our future. UNC has put on the full-court press and now the ball is in Duke’s court.

Students working on the Divest Duke campaign have collected more than 1,500 student signatures this semester to support their petition to rid Duke University’s $7 billion endowment of association with the top 200 fossil fuel companies that contribute to carbon emissions over a 5-year period. The students argue that their education should not be financed by companies that are contributing to global-scale social harms from climate change. Students submitted a proposal to Duke’s Advisory Committee for Investment Responsibility (ACIR) last January. This committee supports President Richard Brodhead in making recommendations to the Board of Trustees in accordance with the Board’s Guideline on Socially Responsible Investing. We anticipate a formal response to the fossil fuel divestment proposal in November. In the meantime, Duke students continue to reach out to organizations, alumni, and faculty to join their coalition.

North Carolina students will also be coming together at a Climate Justice Summit to be held in November—this will be the first intergenerational gathering of its kind in North Carolina. We can build a better future, but we all have to be at the table to do so. We hope that students and community leaders at this summit will be able to lay down building blocks for a resilient future in North Carolina.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Students Unite to Stop Natural Gas Power Plant on Campus

Project Green Challenge: Moving From Conventional to Conscious

Barriers to Fossil Fuel Divestment at Tufts University


OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Gwen Ranniger

In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images

Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Protestors walk past an image of a Native American woman during a march to "Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person" after the U.S. presidential Election in Seattle, Washington on November 4. Jason Redmond / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."

Read More Show Less
Marilyn Angel Wynn / Getty Images

By Christina Gish Hill

Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.

Read More Show Less
Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less