By Amala NathStaff Writer
Last Sunday, eight students from Students For A Greener Hofstra rode down a bus provided by the Sierra Club to Washington D.C. to participate in the largest climate change rally in history. A documentary film crew followed them for the day. Two coaches buses transported activists and community members from all across Long Island. Everyone was all able to share and learn about the struggles faced last year during Hurricane Sandy. Senior Jane Miner was a Hofstra student who attended the protest.
“A lot of people don't realize that these types of storms are major indicators of the evolving weather patterns brought about by "people-produced" climate change. There were groups on our bus from the Rockaways, Long Beach, and way out east .... students, teachers, parents, volunteers, average joe's ... we really got an interesting perspective on how this tragedy effected our neighbors outside of Hofstra,” Miner said.
Senior Ariel Flajnik went specifically oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline for two reasons: to stand with the communities from the Tar Sands region of Canada, and to protest against the number of fossil fuels extracted from the earth.
Other groups from New York who attended were "Don't Frack New York" and "Food And Water Watch," which are NY groups that oppose hydraulic fracturing. There was a huge NY student and youth turnout from "Green Umbrella: New York Youth for a Just and Sustainable Future" who lead Divestment campaigns around New York. Also in attendance were representatives from "Occupy Sandy," who came to protest Keystone XL because they've been dealing with the carnage of Climate Change since November's storm, according to Flajnik.
“There was even anti-war activists there- Medea Benjamin's peace organization "Code Pink" was yelling at the White House gates,” Flajnik said.
There were also celebrities there who spoke, including Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, Van Jones who was President Obama’s former Green Jobs adviser, actress Rosario Dawson and Jacqueline Thomas who is the chief of the Saik’uz First Nation from British Columbia, Canada.
The overall message that the 50,000 people, ranging from the ages of six month to 90 years old, were trying to send was to tell President Obama to "move forward on climate," urging him to take measures within his power to keep the Earth's temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius-like stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, investing in and exploring green and sustainable energy, and federally mandating Natural Gas Companies to disclose the chemicals that they use during the process of Hydraulic Fracturing. Politicians and academics who campaigned for President Obama, like Van Jones, told the public that if Obama is elected, the public has to continue to mobilize and push him on issues, especially because the political voice of the public has been so greatly diluted by the increased influence of powerful corporations (like those in the fossil fuel industry), which has been reinforced by SuperPacs and Supreme Court decisions like Citizen's United.
“We need Obama to see that we were listening when he promised to move our country away from the continued use and extraction of fossil fuels. We voted him into office on that platform, and we want him to deliver. It isn't just about the environment either. It's about the economy, jobs, energy independence, and political justice, having a voice. It's obviously something that a lot of people feel very strongly about,” said Miner.