The Maneater

Community and MU student groups hold Walk for the Climate

The march was part of a larger effort by Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and several other climate activist groups to raise awareness about global warming.

Activists march at Mid-Missouri Peaceworks’ Walk for the Climate on Sunday, Sept. 24. The event, co-sponsored by the Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, began at 1 p.m. at Courthouse Plaza. Speaking on climate change and its effects, Peacework’s Director Mark Haim said, “It’s all of us. We’re all in this together.”

Chants rang throughout downtown Columbia on Sunday as Mid-Missouri Peaceworks held its Walk for the Climate.

The 5K walk was organized by Mid-Missouri Peaceworks Director Mark Haim and co-sponsored by the Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, a student group at MU that works to divest from oil. Participants began the walk at Courthouse Plaza before moving through downtown Columbia and the MU campus. The event was organized to both raise money — a target amount was set at $5,000 — and raise awareness for climate change.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks was joined in the demonstration by several local climate activist groups, including MEAC. President Madeline Niemann attended the walk, spoke at the rally and joined fellow MEAC members Micheal Borucke and Mason Brobeck in a satirical skit at Speaker’s Circle.

“[MEAC’s] niche in the environmental activism groups on campus is that we focus on climate justice,” Niemann said. “We’re interested in the intersection of multiple forms of oppression and how they relate to climate change, and we want to change it on a systemic level.”

MEAC currently has a five-year goal of divesting from oil on the MU campus, with a long-term goal of 100 percent clean energy.

“In the long term, there’s no way that we can have a world that depends on finite resources and not expect to have problems of inequity and climate change,” Niemann said.

This idea that climate change is causing natural disasters lines up with the consensus held by the scientific community. Scientists believe that rising ocean temperatures and raised sea levels are contributing to stronger storms, such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“We’re deeply concerned about the climate crisis,” Haim said. “Huge floods, rising sea levels — we’re already seeing ice caps melting, we’re already seeing sea levels rising. We’re seeing air and water temperature going up already … It’s a combination of super storms and extreme heat and droughts, fire, flash floods … We had flash floods this past spring in southern Missouri that were unprecedented. They called them 500- or 1,000- year floods.”

In addition to rising sea levels, as of its mid-year report, Climate Central said 2017 was the second-hottest year on record, a repercussion it attributed to accumulating greenhouse gases.

These rising temperatures and sea levels were addressed in the 2015 Paris climate accord, an act of international diplomacy in which 195 countries pledged to set goals to curb carbon emissions.

Since his election, President Donald Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris deal, a decision that was criticized at Sunday’s pre-walk rally.

In addition to his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, Haim and members of the walk criticized Trump for his claim that climate change is a “Chinese hoax,” his promise to bring back the coal industry and the appointment of several “climate change deniers” to his administration.

Haim listed Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as examples of climate change deniers. Haim stated that the Trump administration’s actions concerning the climate were a central reason for the walk.

“It’s a very serious situation, and we’ve got Trump fiddling while the planet burns,” Haim said. “We can’t afford that. We’ve got to stop that, and that’s why we’re out here demonstrating.”

MEAC plans to continue working on campus, while Mid-Missouri Peaceworks has hopes for the wider Columbia community to use the power of their votes to sway politicians and for Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt to show leadership in regard to climate change.

“That means getting their heads clear, taking a look at the scientific evidence and deciding that even if the oil companies give them money, they’re not going to keep on voting for what’s not in their constituents’ interest,” Haim said.

MEAC meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in room 206 of Middlebush Hall to discuss climate change and plan events.

Edited by Sarah Hallam | shallam@themaneater.com

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