Friday, October 18, 2019
Climate Change Activists Challenge Adults to Act Like Adults
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More than 350 adults and youth—and a few dozen dogs—took to the streets of Hailey Friday to send a message to the world’s government and business leaders.
 
Saturday, September 21, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

A boisterous crowd led by Wood River Valley students filled the streets of Hailey on Friday chanting “Climate change is not allowed. Please don’t let our planet die.”

The 350 marchers were among millions of people who turned out in 4,500 organized protests around the globe on Friday to tell the world’s leaders it’s time to get serious about stopping climate change.

“Today is expected to be the largest global protest in history, and we’re led by youth. And we’re not alone—today Amazon employees walked out of company headquarters for the first time.,” Sienna Polk told the crowd from the steps of the old County Courthouse.

 
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Carly Walther-Porino, who talked alongside Ella Kopplin and Maria Mendoza, could have used someone to trim back the tree branches as she addressed a large crowd. From the steps of the Old County Courthouse.
 

“It’s not only our responsibility to take steps forward but it’s our responsibility, particularly under the current administration, to not take steps backwards,” added Carly Walther-Porino. “We don’t have to be the problem. Let’s be the solution.”

Elizabeth Jeffrey, who co-founded the Hailey Climate Action Coalition this spring, was both flabbergasted and encouraged by the turnout.

“I had told the city we expected 40 to 50 people to attend, and it turned into 350 people on a cold, gray day,” she said. “There’s obviously an unknown and fairly hidden level of anxiety and concern around the many issues of climate change, and people are looking for ways to turn that fear into personal action at any offered opportunity.”

Jeffrey added that she was amazed at the speed with which students rallied after she told them of the strikes being planned around the world

 
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Wolvering football player Conner May challenged the adults to act like adults.
 

“There were two Wood River High Schools students involved as of yesterday morning because the school wouldn’t give students permission to leave. By last night there were 40,” she said. “Students made this bigger and bigger, making posters, appointing speakers. We even have kids from Syringa Mountain School’s third grade class down here interviewing people with fake microphones.”

Hailey City Council Member Martha Burke, who is running unopposed for mayor, looked on approvingly, as well: “I’m so happy with this turnout. This is our future.”

Sage School student Sam Laski led chants through a megaphone as the marchers walked down Croy and Main streets before circling back to the court house.

Linda McMahon carried artwork of trees she’d grabbed from the walls of Branching Out Nursery stating “Trees are the answer.” Another adult carried a sign that said “Climate Change is not fake news,” while still another carried a sign saying “Make Earth cool again.”

 
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Students led the march.
 

One student carried a sign warning, “You’ll die of old age. I’ll die of climate change,” while another hoisted a sign that said, “If you won’t act like adults, we will.” In response, Hailey resident  Judy Foster carried a sign that said, “Kids are leading us. Heads up leaders/adults: Act like our kids.”

Still another marcher carried a sign urging viewers to follow the eight Rs: “RETHINK your choices, REFUSE single use, REDUCE consumption, REUSE everything, REFURBISH old stuff, REPAIR before you replace, REPURPOSE and reinvent and RECYLE (last option).

Sabina Love noted how inspired she was by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student who  spurred Friday’s rallies. Thunberg began skipping school a year ago to stand outside the Swedish parliament holding a sign protesting inaction on climate change.

“This is the biggest crisis our world has ever faced,” Love said. “I’m here because I love Sun Valley and the outdoors. I love to ski, and I love to fish and hike in the mountains. And I’m scared that in the future there will be not be snow on the ground and that our air will be choked by the smoke from wildfires.

 
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Rob Lonning thinks addressing climate change can be as simple—or, at least—achievable—as it was landing a man on the moon.
 

“If we don’t act, this is the generation that will suffer,” she added. “But this is the generation that can do something about it…and it all starts here.”

“Our future is at stake, but leaders are doing little to combat climate change,” added Trinity Hadam, a recent Sage School graduate. “The activist is not the man who says, ‘The river is dirty’ but the one who cleans it up. Together we are stronger.”

Wood River High School student Sofia Peller said she didn’t realize just how bad things were until she spent some time on an island in Panama that was filled with trash and surrounded by polluted waters.

“We need to be educated and lead by example,” she said. “It’s ironic we had to miss school to show up for an issue we’re so passionate about.

She paused, noting something Greta Thunberg had said: “I want you to panic and act like your house is on fire.”

More than a 100,000 people rallied in New York City where New York City schools excused 1 million students from school, as Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “They’re our conscience.”

Three hundred thousand Australians showed up to register their concern. And Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Burton and SodaStream were among the companies that shut down for the day so employees could attend local marches.

Thunberg, who crossed the ocean on a solar-powered ship to lessen her carbon footprint, told   Democratic senators this week: “I know you’re trying. But just not hard enough.”

She added that Congress should invite scientists to the Capitol: Tthis is not about youth activism.  We want the science to be heard.”

The rallies came as a report by the United Nations looking at the impact of climate change on individual states noted that Idaho is projected to experience a 110 percent increase in droughts by 2050, which will impact the production of its famous potatoes.

Even this week an NBC News analysis showed that nights have warmed more than the days over the past 40 years with the most striking increase in the West. Idaho recorded 2.3 record high night temperatures for every record low, while neighboring states like Utah and Nevada set 3.4 and 3.6 record-high night temperatures for every record low respectively.

Warming nights impact crops, which need a certain number of days below a temperature threshold to bloom. And they contribute to heat-related illnesses, which kill more people than floods, tornados and hurricanes combined.

Jeffery said she hoped the momentum will continue.

“It’s intriguing that we had 350 people turn out when 350 parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere was the climate change turning point that brought on our present crisis,” she said. “Here’s hoping that these 350 people per 10,000-plus residents will be our next turning point in slowing it down.”

 

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