Saturday, March 16, 2019

“The dinosaurs thought they had time too”: #ClimateStrikenyc, NYC says No to the Williams Pipeline, Students Walk Out! #saveelizabethstreetgarden#ClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture #WhateverItTakes #climatestrikenyc #fridaysforfuture #climatestrike#climateemergency @extinctionrebellion @alexandriav2005 @extinctionrebellionus @gretathunberg

#xrnyc blocking traffic #climatestrike, thousands swarm the Museum of Natural History #studentstrike,
students take city hall - by Ken Schles

        ClimateStrike..... by Sarah J. Cion and Extinction Rebellion. 
The Youth Have Spoken. Are You Listening?#climatestrikenyc #fridaysforfuture #climatestrike#climateemergency @extinctionrebellion @alexandriav2005 @extinctionrebellionus @gretathunberg

Gretta above and this writer below, holding the "Ban inFrackstructure" sign at City Hall.
"Comptroller Stringer, elected officials join New Yorkers to call on Governor Cuomo and DEC to stop Williams fracked gas pipeline," photo and caption by Erik McGregor.


I speak for the garden and the trees that cannot speak for themselves,
A ten  year old kid testified at the City Department of Planning on Wednesday, quoting from the first lines of the Lorax by Dr Seuss.

Save the Trees.

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues….
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not…
It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.”
Implored the  Lorax.

This young girl testifying was making the same point.
By the end of the week, kids around the city and the world would be striking for the climate.
A centerpiece of their demands:
Preserving our public lands and wildlife.”
Public land includes urban greenspaces.
Yet, this was not a message heard at t he  department  of planning on  Wednesday as supporters and  opponents of the Elizabeth Street Garden debated the fate of this  beloved green  space in Manhattan.

As the panel  continued, few seemed  to remember her prophetic words.
Save the  garden, save the city, I reminded the panel, testifying towards the end.
If you destroy this garden, we are not just losing a space,
We are losing,
You are
destroying something precious, 
Something  magic, we will  never  get back again.
Cities need green spaces.
People are alienated and lost.
That’s why Central  Park was created.

I spoke about Rome and its Largo di Torre Argentina, in the old neighborhood of Campo Marzio,
Where Roman, Etruscan, and  Green ruins, remain, in a mix with a modern metropolis,
Across the street, a bus station.
Cats linger in  the delicate ecology of the ruins.
Cities need such magic spaces.
Great cities  don’t take away such spaces.
In  the era of climate change,
We need open green spaces more and more.
If cities are to survive, they have to go green.
They have to become sustainable spaces,
Not paved over spaces monetized by the inch.
Imagine New York a hundred years from now, 
I plead.
If its green, it will be sustainable.
This battle between housing and gardens,
Offers a false dichotomy.
We need both,
Particularly rent control for everyone.
Rent caps for everyone over sixty.

As participants of the Livable City panel pointed out:
"The historic battle has been pitting low-income housing against community gardens, especially in lower Manhattan.  There's a long history of those fights.  And who benefits from those? The community doesn’t benefit," Tom Angotti.

"There have been studies that show that there is enough housing produced in New York City to house every person in New York City, so let’s be clear, they’re not building for the people, they’re building for money."
-Alicia Boyd, founder of MTOPP, The Movement To Protect The People, and FLAC, Flower Lovers against Corruption

"Peace, spiritual inspiration, community cohesion, the commons, these are terms that don’t appear in the lexicon of city planning yet they are the very terms that have allowed communities embracing these concepts intuitively, if not intellectually, to be sure to take responsibility and to develop their communities." 
-Raymond Figueroa, President of the NYC Community Garden Coalition

"They should do due diligence to understand how the garden contributes to the quality of life.  That nothing like this will ever be created ever again, and we should cherish it as a place where nature and culture have a great story to tell. "
-Charles Birnbaum, President & CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation

I walked out of the Department of Planning, feeling  discouraged after trying to implore the grownups to think about the future of the  city, not the present.
And heard that Greta Thunberg,
Who ignited climate strikes and student walkouts,was nominated for  the Nobel Prize.
"Change is coming... whether you like it or not" she insisted.

Student Climate Action referred to her work in describing the call for the Climate Walkout that  would take place later in  the week.

“Every Friday for the last 6 months, Greta Thunberg has been missing school and striking on the steps of Stockholm Parliament building. She is demanding that government undertake a radical response to climate change. Now, Greta has inspired thousands of youth, teachers, parents, and others to join her in walking out on Fridays, and we are joining her as well.”

We are a group of focused students who are ready to take action.

Scientific studies are showing that we have less than 12 years to act and avoid some of the most extreme feedback loops of climate change.  After that, there is no turning back. Melting icebergs are causing currents to change, 200 species are going extinct each day, and unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, floods and climate disasters are the new normal.

This is our problem. Climate Change is already here and it's up to us to lead.   The adults haven't stopped it and we can't wait anymore.  All across the world, kids are organizing events, walking out of schools, starting organizations, and more - all for the same goal - to stop this catastrophic thing called Climate Change that is destroying the Earth as we know it.
“WE ARE STUDENT CLIMATE ACTIVISTS UNITING TO TAKE ACTION.  We as children cannot vote, so we cannot choose the leaders we believe will take urgent action. But we can and we will make our voices heard! We will march, sing, write letters, write articles, make videos, and reduce our carbon footprint at home and at school to show that we care about climate change and the future of our planet.  We see the change that we as humans need to make, and will not stand idly by as our world dies. We care about these things because we want our children and grandchildren will be able to live peaceful lives without fearing for the survival of all of Earth's organisms. We are student climate activists.

And join them, the world did.
It was a full week of environmental activism.

Declared  activists with  w/ Stop the Williams Pipeline in NY Harbor, NY Communities for Change,  350 NYC,  Fossil Free , Sane Energy Project, Peoples Climate Movement NY, Food & Watch, ClimateStikers, and this writer standing holding the ‘Ban the Frack Friday, Mar. 15 at 11:00 AM at City Hall.

As the press conference went on,
 students who’d walked out of classes were  joining us.

“I skipped AP to come to this,” read one sign held by a student standing,
outside City Hall,

“Let them in.
Let them in,” we chanted.

The security guards kept them out, kicking out photographers who walked too near  them  for a shot.

Gradually, they started making their way inside the steps of city hall.

“We won't let our planet die! Climate change is not a lie!!!
The kids screamed.

From up town, to downtown, kids were walking out of classes, by the thousands, or perhaps millions, students in some 112 countries in what some called the largest youth climate action in history.

“We raced to the moon, now lets race to clean energy,” one  student declared.

“No more coal, no more carbon, keep our carbon in the soil.”

Peter Yarrow walked in.

Abuse of power comes as no surprise, noted one young activist, referring to the old Jenny Holtzer work.

“The ocean’s are rising  and so are we,”
More of the kids screamed, earnest and ready to act.

“Its’s time you start taking our generation’s survival seriously!”

“Climate change is not a lie,
Do not let our planet die.”

More and more kids walked into City Hall.

And lined up around City Hall. 
Until  finally we met them in the park outside.

There I ran into the kids from New Experiments in Science and Technology, including my daughter, whose whole class walked out.

“Give a hoot, don’t pollute,” read her sign. 

My other daughter was busy in a die in in Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

This is their greatest fear.

What’s a good chant,
She asked on the way to school, carrying a banner from the New York City Climate  March she made in 2014, when she was eight.
She has been involved  with this for literally her   whole life.

“When our planet is under attack,
What do we do,
Stand up, fight back!”

People repeated it all morning.

“What are you going to do when some politician lies about climate change?” screamed on young man.

“There’s no planet B,” declared a younger activist.

“Science not silence,” they screamed.

“We the people have the power,” others chanted.

“Save our future!!!!” they screamed. 

“Hey hey ho ho,
Do something de Blasio!!!”

“Stop denying the earth is dying!!!” others screamed.

“I wanna go to college, not a swimming pool,” read another sign.

“I’m  sure the dinosaurs thought they had time too,” read my favorite sign of the day.

Students started speeches.

“Politicians, we can’t wait!  We need your support  now!”
Declared a young boy.

“We have to take back our lives now!
We have  to take care now!
Before its too late.
We have to take care now!”

“We can’t eat money.
Money can’t make people.
We can.
We have to use our voices.
Politicians will wait till its too late
And only when they see a way to make money.”

“We have eleven years  and they are doing nothing.”

My favorite speech was toward the end when a young girl grabbed the mike, quietly reminding everyone:

“Little things can do a big difference.  Just cause we’re little doesn’t mean we can’t make a big difference.”

I was strikingly moved, hearing the speeches.

“The future will start now.  We will win this.”

Throughout the day, I  read reports of climate strikes around the world, Hong Kong,  Amsterdam, thousands and thousands of students, many  children, walked out of school to strike for the climate.

At times, I was moved to tears to see the kids. Why am I studying for a future I may not have, read one student's sign. I hope the world hears them. Afterall, there is no planet b.

The platform and mission of the  Youth Climate Strike:

“We, the youth of America, are striking because the science says we have just a few years to transform our energy system, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent the worst effects of climate change. We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis. We are striking because marginalized communities across our nation —especially communities of color, disabled communities, and low- income communities—  are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We are striking because if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change. With our futures at stake, we call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We are striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure. Additionally, we believe the climate crisis should be declared a national emergency because we are running out of time.


Green New Deal
·         An equitable transition for marginalized communities that will be most impacted by climate change
·         An equitable transition for fossil-fuel reliant communities to a renewable economy
·         100% renewable energy by 2030
·         Upgrading the current electric grid
·         No creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure (pipelines, coal plants, fracking etc.)
·         The creation of a committee to oversee the implementation of a Green New Deal
o    That has subpoena power
o    Committee members can’t take fossil fuel industry donations
o    Accepts climate science

A halt in any and all fossil fuel infrastructure projects
·         Fossil fuel infrastructure disproportionately impacts indigenous communities and communities of color in a negative way
·         Creating new fossil fuel infrastructure would create new reliance on fossil fuels at a time of urgency
All decisions made by the government be based on the best-available and most-current scientific research.
·         The world needs to reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2030, and by 100% before 2050.
·         We need to incorporate this fact into all policymaking

Declaring a National Emergency on Climate Change
·         This calls for a national emergency because we have only a few years to avoid catastrophic climate change.
·         Since the US has empirically been a global leader, we should be a leader on climate action
·         Since the US largely contributes to global GHG emissions, we should be leading the fight in GHG reduction

Compulsory comprehensive education on climate change and its impacts throughout grades K-8
·         K-8 is the ideal age range for compulsory climate change education because:
o    Impressionability is high during that developmental stage, therefore it’s easier for children and young adults to learn about climate change in a more in-depth manner, and retain that information
o    Climate change becomes a nonpartisan issue, as it truly is because it’s based solely on science from the beginning
Preserving our public lands and wildlife
·         Diverse ecosystems and national parks will be very impacted by climate change, therefore it’s important that we work to the best of our abilities to preserve their existence
Keeping our water supply clean
·         Clean water is essential for all living beings, when we pollute our water supply, or the water supply of someone else, it’s simply a violation of an essential human right

Our Solutions

·         The extraction of Greenhouse Gases from the atmosphere
o    Reforestation-- replenishing our forests by planting trees and allowing them to thrive, sustainable forestry
o    Reduced food waste-- methane emissions from rotting food in landfills contributes immensely to overall Greenhouse Gases emissions
Emission standards and benchmarks
o    We need to create standards and benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gases that align with the best-available climate science.
Changing the agriculture industry
o    Less carbon-intensive farming
o    More plant-based farming
·         Using renewable energy and building renewable energy infrastructure
·         Stopping the unsustainable and dangerous process of fracking
·         Stop mountaintop removal/mining
o    It is very harmful to our environment and people working in these fields
*These are not the sole solutions, these are just some solutions that we approve of
*To be effective, these solutions need to be implemented at a large scale by the United States government

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