Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:34:00 CDT — by: Yousra Hussain (C'22)
“For way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything at all to fight the climate crisis and the ecological crisis,” Greta Thunderberg told a crowd in London for Extinction Rebellion. “But we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer.”
This rhetoric from 16-year-old environmental activist, Greta from Sweden, helped to inspire the global Climate Strike as countries geared up for the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Millions of people worldwide gathered on the streets in different parts of the world to demand action for Climate Change. One such Climate strike was facilitated by Lauren Newman (among others), the Sustainability Coordinator at Sewanee, in Chattanooga.
Prior to the Climate Strike in Chattanooga, numerous Sewanee students, staff and faculty were seen adorned in green to stand in solidarity with the movement. The group gathered outside McClurg dining hall for a group picture taken by Buck Butler (C’89) to signify the importance of the movement.
After the photo, Feza Umutoni (C’22) said, “It is important for people to know that the environment is not a place where we just happen to be, [but] it influences our well-being. So keeping it clean and keeping it green is everyone’s responsibility.” Feza’s sentiment was shared with a number of others on campus, echoing the need for greater accountability and responsibility regarding Climate Change.
If human history is any indicator, it is the voice of a few that decides the fate of many. Cole Johnson, a work-study student for Sustain Sewanee, stated that if inaction “is allowed to continue...then [he] fear[s] it will be the last time the human race gets to make the same mistake.” Therefore, although the Climate Strike is revolutionary, the essence of the strike should not just be limited to one day. For the sake of humanity, we must strive towards environmental initiatives that better our community, our country and our home.
For Johnson, he believes Sewanee can better its environmental initiatives by using Sewanee’s extensive networks for those in positions of power to take greater accountability and strides towards alleviating the effects of Climate Change. Lauren Newman, the Sustainability Coordinator, emphasized this by urging Sewanee students to “not underestimate the power of the vote” and to seek “greater accountability in leadership.”
The Climate Strike itself, which was hosted in Chattanooga, had an estimated attendance of over 400 people. Newman, who was one of the organizers of the Strike, was inspired by the passion expressed in the memorable speeches given by community leaders. One such speech by two Kenyan girls who invented a method that generates power from dead cell batteries and organic materials, led Newman to bring those girls to campus, for them to inspire the rest of the Sewanee community.
The Climate Strike is meant to kick-start a revolution that not only inspires, but creates a platform to instigate real change. A revolution that encourages greater accountability, exchange of ideas, and builds a sense of unity towards solving a problem that we can not ignore.