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A Climate Change Protest at UMBC?

Ashby Henningsen

Asst. Editor, News

Despite being a major movement in the climate change movement, major news networks failed to give the New York climate change protests the attention they deserved. UMBC students ought to follow New York’s example, though, and organize a climate change demonstration right here on campus. 

Last Sunday, approximately 310,000 people gathered to form a mass protest against climate change in New York City. It was estimated by organizers to have been the largest climate change protest in history, and it was the largest of over 2,000 climate change protests worldwide. It was meant to be a pivotal moment in the climate change movement.

There was one problem, however. Most of the major television networks failed to cover the protest — before, during or after the protest occurred.

MSNBC’s “Up” and ABC’s “Live Now” were the only morning news shows to mention the march. Only “NBC Nightly News” did an extended evening segment. Despite the protest taking place in front of several cable network studios while passing through Manhattan, the cable networks paid minimal attention.

Climate change is an issue of pressing concern worldwide. Yet the events in New York would suggest that much of the country continues to dismiss the need to tackle it here and now. It would be understandable to feel disheartened that one of the most crucial global issues fails to receive the sense of urgency and seriousness that it deserves.

Perhaps, though, the New York protest can serve as a rallying cry for student demonstrations across the country — including on this very campus.

UMBC has already done much to foster a culture of sustainability and climate change awareness. A climate change demonstration here would be a great opportunity to further energize the spirit of change here, and perhaps even spread it to the surrounding community.

A student protest could channel many students’ desire for reform into a unified voice. It could also enable students to actively voice their individual demands for greater climate change awareness in the community-at-large.

UMBC’s campus is an ideal environment for such a protest. Faculty and students have brought attention to climate change and sustainability through several different events and programs, as Tanvi Gadhia, UMBC’s Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, points out.

These have included Recyclemania, Eco-Fest to celebrate Earth Day and Harvest Fest to celebrate National Campus Sustainability Day. UMBC has also hosted guest speakers to discuss climate change before students. “In 2007, Al Gore came to UMBC to present An Inconvenient Truth, drawing an enormous crowd from all over campus,” Gadhia said.

With all that UMBC has done to promote action against climate change, a large

student protest could be a welcome next step, as well as a feasible one. Student organizations and programs, such as Students for Environmental Awareness or the SGA’s Department of Environmental Affairs, could coordinate to organize the event and galvanize students to attend and protest.

“It will take all of us working collectively to find new and innovative alternatives that do not damage our communities and destroy our resources,” Gadhia said on climate change.

“We need to increase the visibility of this issue, speak up, take action and lead by example.”

With all that students and faculty have done to meet that challenge, perhaps a climate change campus demonstration ought to be the next step.