Climate activists march in Columbia

More than 100 activists marched from the Boone County Courthouse to Sen. Roy Blunt’s office.
People listen to a speaker outside the Columbia Courthouse in the Global Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Over 2,700 cities participated in the movement across the country.

More than 100 climate change activists gathered in Columbia on Sunday to march in support of environmental legislation.

Blowing whistles and chanting “climate action now,” they paraded from the Boone County Courthouse to the office of Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., where the marchers covered the windows with Post-it notes detailing the actions they would like to see him take.

“We need the U.S. to be leading the move to a low-carbon future,” said George Laur, a spokesman for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Laura Wacker, spokeswoman for Peaceworks, an organization focused on social justice education, said she agrees the government should prioritize combating climate change over other legislative agenda.

“Whether or not we have an Earth to live on in the next 50 years is a little more important than whether we have Obamacare,” she said. “We’re here to say, ‘It’s time for you to act for the people, not for the corporations.’”

According to Andrew Linhares, staff attorney for Renew Missouri, coal and gas are the main opponents of environmental legislation because emission-reducing actions, such as carbon taxes, would hurt energy companies’ profits.

Linhares said it has been difficult to persuade energy companies to focus on renewable energies over fossil fuel.

“It’s hard to convince an entire industry that’s basically been ruling the globe for the last hundred years to divest itself from (oil and coal),” he said. “It’s going to take a loud, loud message from the public.”

Leaders of various organizations, such as Rev. Knute Jacobson of the Calvary Episcopal Church, made speeches in addition to the march. Jacobson described environmental activism as protecting God’s creation.

“God created the planet we live on, and it was created for a purpose,” Jacobson said. “And that purpose was to sustain, to be the ground of being, to sustain life.”

Sami Tellatin, a senior at MU and spokeswoman for the Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, said that the current generation “is responsible for picking up the pieces,” and emphasizing a need for smarter energy use in addition to greener energy.

City Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said the City Council has made efforts toward making the city greener.

Hoppe said the city is working to increase its share of renewable energy use to 30 percent by 2022 and improve the bus system in order to reduce emissions from cars.

However, the march in Columbia is only a small part of a much larger movement.

Missouri Energy Action Coalition (MEAC) Director Kelsey Wingo, the People’s Climate March took place in New York City and drew over 285,000 people and 1,400 different organizations from across the nation, including MEAC.

Wingo said the event was timed to take place just two days before a UN summit on global warming.

Peaceworks Director Mark Hiam spoke to the Columbia marchers via an audio feed from the march in New York.

“The movement is going to come out of here greatly strengthened,” he said.

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