I returned to Santa Cruz this past Saturday so I could be in town for a climate action rally. On Sunday a crowd of over 150 marched from downtown Santa Cruz to San Lorenzo Park for this event to raise awareness about global warming and draw attention to the upcoming climate talks in Paris.
As the marchers made their way down Pacific Garden Mall their placards drew attention to a host of interconnected issues and perspectives: divestment from fossil fuels, the folly of widening Hwy 1, the need for locally grown food, putting a price on carbon, stopping fracking, adopting renewable fuels, support Bernie Sanders, etc. One even warned of the danger of angering St. Precaria (?).
At San Lorenzo Park, above, Santa Cruz’s Mayor Don Lane led off the afternoon’s speakers with a proclamation from the City Council urging strong action to avert climate change and pledging the city to do its part. In fact the city is already doing a lot as I learned when I spoke with the Mayor later. I’ll be exploring their many green programs in a later post.
Prof. Rick Nolthenius (above) who teaches climate science at Cabrillo College sobered the crowd up when he explained that even stopping carbon emissions won’t be enough to stabilize the climate; we must also find ways to pull carbon out of the atmosphere if we are to avoid the devastating impacts that we are on course for. (I sat in on one of his classes last night where he discussed the implications of polar, glacial and tundra ice melting around the world at an accelerating rate.)
The last group to speak were students from the Fossil Free UCSC group who are urging the university to divest its holdings in fossil fuels. These investments still represent about $3 billion of the school’s portfolio according to the speakers. They expressed anger and disappointment that they have not been able to participate in any of the meetings where these matters are decided, despite repeated requests.
The rally participants were diverse and eclectic, reflecting Santa Cruz’s unique culture and long history of political activism. It was heartening to see the many young people taking a lead on this issue which will surely have a dramatic impact on them as their lives unfold.
As the date of the UN climate talks in Paris approaches, rallies will be held around the world this coming Sunday, the 29th, including a big one at City Hall in Downtown LA at 1PM.
November 25, 2015 at 1:00 am
I agree with Nolthenius. If excess emissions were reduced to zero tomorrow, already produced CO2 will continue to drift into the upper atmosphere, trapping heat. Marching and awareness is fine, but the type of systemic changes required on a global scale to reduce emissions is almost incomprehensible. For example, today I heard that some delegates to Paris from poor countries are angry because they are told they can’t use fossil fuels to transition to green energy-first world economic status, as the U.S. and western Europe has been doing for 200 years.