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The Privileged People’s Climate March

By Sustainability Office on May 5, 2017

-Madison Smith ’19

This past weekend, I attended the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. with fellow Green Raider interns Grace Thomas ’17, Jackson Lucas ’17, Kimberly Duncan ’18, Ashlea Raemer ’18, and Chloe Matonis ’18. The purpose of the march was to bring climate change to the attention of our current administration, and that it is, in fact, real and caused by human activity.

Climate change is not only causing the polar bears to go extinct, but it is a problem that impacts people – specifically the people who are contributing to it the least. As Grace Thomas put it, climate change is a race, a poverty, and a feminist issue. As a result, we want actions to be taken and policy to be created that moves the United States towards renewable every, environmental justice, and puts an emphasis on science.

Although having 200,000 people march from our nation’s Capitol to the White House is both powerful and well-intentioned, it is important to acknowledge how such events can perpetuate the under-representation of the marginalized groups mentioned above. While marching, I noticed an overall lack of diversity amongst the crowds of people. At the same time, I realized how much of a privilege it is to be able to travel eight hours, stay in comfortable accommodations, and fight for something that I believe so much in, yet does not directly impact me. Many Americans who are feeling the burdens of sea-level rise, poor hazardous waste management, and government ignorance (for example, the people of Flint, Michigan), do not have the resources to travel all the way to where their government officials are located in order to tell their stories and hopefully catalyze change.

I, and the rest of the Office of Sustainability interns, had an incredible time marching for climate action and hope to participate in more events in the future. For those who missed the march but still want to fight against climate change may contact their senators and other government officials, stay up to date on current events and policies, and spread the word. Most importantly, we need to bring Colgate’s Carbon Neutrality pledge to the forefront of campus, rather than relying on offsets, by reducing activities that lead to emissions and demanding eco-friendly buildings from administrators. At the same time, it is important for us to keep our privilege at the forefront of our activism and to remember that we are fighting for all humans, not just in the U.S., but across the globe.

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