Peaceworks demonstrators protest climate change during rap battle

Even rap battle participants threw in a few rhymes about using less propane gas.

In the midst of mad rhymes being spit out by participants of KCOU’s annual Rap Battle, about 15 protesters had chants of their own to belt out in support of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks’ “Speakout” at Speakers Circle. The demonstration was a part of the People’s Climate Movement National Day of Action on Oct. 14.

“Speakout” was a joint demonstration performed by members of Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, the Sierra Club and The Climate Mobilization, all of whom gathered Wednesday to raise awareness about the climate crisis.

Director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks Mark Haim said the last-minute protest was successful, even if it helps only a few people consider the necessity of sustainability.

“What we did here was to encourage participation, and essentially right now there are far too few people speaking out on the urgent need for the action on climate,” Haim said.

While participants Louie Markovitz, an MU alum, and senior Alexa Nash said they would have liked to see a larger turnout, they still felt they were able to get their message across despite the simultaneous rap battle.

Markovitz and Nash said that during the rap battle, participants even mentioned climate change and “talked about using less propane gas,” which they appreciated.

Haim said that in order to “green it up,” the U.S. needs to change its energy infrastructure, including using less petroleum chemicals when growing food and switching to renewable resources. He also said that part of the issue preventing effective change rests in politics.

“There are some powerful vested interests that are making huge profits off the status quo,” Haim said. “There are a lot of candidates and elected officials that are serving their interests. There are a lot of deniers. It’s more profitable to deny reality than to acknowledge reality.”

Climate change was a topic of discussion at the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night as candidates discussed its damaging effects. Sen. Bernie Sanders said climate change is the the largest national security threat facing the U.S. today.

Despite the importance of the issue on a national scale, the low turnout at Peaceworks’ demonstration may have been due to the short notice of the event, Haim said. The demonstration was mainly publicized on Facebook on an event page that was created just two days ago, on Oct. 12.

Haim said he felt the event was well-received and that it will push students to get more involved with organizations like the Mizzou Energy Action Coalition.

“If somebody was walking by and they heard what we were saying, it might not even affect them today very much, but they might sit around and think about it this weekend and say, ‘You know, maybe I should be doing something about that,’” Haim said.

Markovitz and Nash said they believe that change starts with the individual in small ways, such as simply consuming less, recycling and being more mindful about their actions on a daily basis.

“We only have one planet to live on, so why should we abuse that?” Markovitz said. “I think it’s the biggest issue that we’re facing right now. I mean we can talk about abortion and gay marriage and all these issues, but if we can’t sustain our home, we’re not going to have a home to talk about those issues in the first place. So just the necessity of it is why I’m here.”

Haim says that he is aware that fossil fuel energy won’t go away immediately, but that the public and those who create public policy can start heading on the path to clean energy right now.

“Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something,” Haim said. “We can all make a difference and live more sustainably.”

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