People of all ages and ethnicities came out to show their support of the efforts to address climate change in Keene over the weekend.
According to the city of Keene’s website, “By addressing climate change through thoughtful, collaborative planning and action, we can continue, as a community, to create long-term environmental, social and economic vitality within Keene and the Monadnock Region.”
Assistant Director of Public Works in Keene Duncan Watson said, “Keene is currently in the process of converting 1,155 street lights in Keene to LEDs, which would have the net effect of cutting Keene’s energy usage in half.”
Watson said, “Environment and economics make good business sense together.” According to Watson, the town recently presented a proposal to town officials for a generator that would run on “99.9 percent vegetable oil.”
Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, efforts to combat climate change have been suppressed as far as governmental efforts are concerned. Currently, no information regarding climate change is supplied by the agency put into place to protect our environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This has Keene State College (KSC) students worried. KSC junior year students, Mark Janny and Brendan Jones, both said, “The biggest issue surrounding climate change is that our government does not recognize it as an issue.”
Emma Bresland, a student at Keene High School taking an advanced placement environmental studies class, said, “We all came out to show our support, show we care and [that we] want change.” According to Bresland, it is important to start getting off of fossil fuels and onto renewables. When asked what Bresland wanted people to take away from the events on Saturday, Bresland said, “We have to save the earth and dump Trump.”
People of Keene have more than enough reason to be concerned. According to data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites, land ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland are losing mass. Data shows that the continent of Antarctica has been losing about 118 gigatonnes of ice per year since 2002, while the Greenland ice sheet has been losing an estimated 281 gigatonnes per year. While melting land ice is only one of many issues surrounding climate change, continual melting could result in the flooding of coastal towns, leaving presently populated areas of living out of the question for future generations.
During the People’s Climate March in Keene, City Councillor, Mitch Greenwald, and others spoke of recent flooding in Keene as a firsthand example of the effects of climate change. Speakers joked that we now know the reason behind the naming of Water Street
Member of the Monadnock Progressive Alliance (MPA) D’Vorah Kelley spoke of these concerns and said herself and others started working towards climate change activism after Trump took office. “We started meeting in January, well actually, we really started after the election ended, while myself and others were at a house party with friends.” When asked her opinion on the biggest issue surrounding climate change, Kelley said, “The fact that everywhere I travel, the temperature fluctuations have been so crazy.” Kelley said, “Residents living in Costa Rica claim they have never experienced temperatures like they are currently experiencing before.” According to Kelley, melting ice caps are another reason for concern. Kelley said, “I have a five-year-old grandson and I want the earth to be here for his lifetime.” Prior to the march taking place, Kelley said she had heard rumors of around 500 expected in attendance. After Saturday, the MPA posted that estimated 500-600 people were in attendance.
According to an EPA-issued report under President Barack Obama regarding the dangers of fracking, it was concluded that fracking can be linked to potential contamination of drinking water.
Local activist Kathy Byrne said she is most concerned for clean air and clean water, but did not stop there. Byrne said, “It does not matter how much money you make, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, all people should want clean air and clean water.”
Local activist Russ Provost stressed the importance of activism and reminisced upon his time at Cornell University. According to Provost, “I’ve been protesting since the Vietnam War. During our lunches at Cornell, we would protest on Fridays.” Although there was a small majority of KSC students in attendance, Provost took notice. “The past couple of years, I have not really seen young people at protests. Lately, especially today and the Women’s March and March for Science in Boston, youths are starting to come out; this gives me hope.” Provost said, he is most concerned for the two new drilling orders, especially offshore drilling in the Arctic. Provost went on to admire the great sense of community that organized activism events, such as the People’s Climate March in Keene, can provide.
During the People’s Climate March in Keene, many creative climate change related signs were being held up. One sign in particular read, “I’m marching for my grandkids; Walker, three-years-old, Aubrey, two-years-old, Asher, two-years-old, Jack, seven-months-old, Lucile, seven-months-old, Ryder, three-days-old.” The man behind that sign was Russ Provost.
John Piatelli can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org