Claremont joins global climate strike warning of environmental crisis

A crowd of people on the corner of a street wave signs advocating for climate change action.
Participants in the climate change strike wave signs at passing cars at the corner of Indian Hill Boulevard and Foothill Avenue. The strike on Sept. 20 attracted four million participants worldwide. (Alyssa Leong • The Student Life)

“You’ll die of old age, we’ll die of climate change,” read one sign as Claremont residents and 5C students gathered at Claremont City Hall to bring attention to the global climate crisis Sept. 20. 

About 100 protesters yelled various chants and a few gave speeches to voice their anxiety, concern and anger about climate change — just one manifestation of the pent-up frustration that led more than four million people worldwide to march and speak out last week.

Claremont High School student Eila Planinc, who organized Claremont’s climate strike, was the first of several to speak at the protest. 

“We strike today, three days before the 2019 [United Nations] climate summit to prove to lawmakers that we care about this issue, our future and the future of our planet,” Planinc said, earning cheers from the crowd.

Planinc laid out a list of reforms that the protesters hoped for, including a halt to fossil fuel extraction, increased use of renewable energy sources and enactment of the Green New Deal — a slate of proposed climate change legislation.

Pomona College politics professor Heather Williams spoke about what she said was a climate change myth: the idea that climate change does not merit significant concern or attention. 

“Right now we’re at a moment where you are essentially the people who have to deprogram the lie,” Williams told the protesters. “You have to punch through it and say … ‘This is not a lie, this is not bad science, this is actually overwhelming evidence that our environment is changing.’” 

A woman facing away from the camera holds a sign reading "Save the Planet," with pictures of Wall-E and Evee from the movie "Wall-E."
A woman demands climate change action with a Wall-E poster. The climate change strike on Sept. 20 attracted four million participants worldwide. (Alyssa Leong • The Student Life)

Claremont resident Kitty Robinson criticized people who do not support climate change activism.

“They say this should be about facts, not emotion,” Robinson said. “But why am I emotional? It’s not because I’m illogical, it’s because I know the facts and that’s what they lead you to feel.”

Later in the day, Claremont residents and 5C students gathered on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Indian Hill Boulevard for a second protest hosted by Uncommon Good, a local nonprofit. The protesters waved signs and chanted as cars passed by, often honking in response. 

The same day, other students headed into Los Angeles to bring awareness to the climate crisis. The Claremont chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth-driven group that works to combat climate change, helped organize the excursion.

Eric Warmoth CM ’22, the leader of Sunrise’s local chapter, said the protest helped get young people involved in climate activism.

“It’s not about saying, ‘Listen up President Trump, you better change your policy because we have environmental activists in the streets,’” he said. “It’s about giving people an opportunity to get involved really easily.”

Warmoth said he believes strikes offer people the opportunity to learn about how to fight for environmental justice.

Emily Kuhn PZ ’22, a spokesperson for 5C members of the Sunrise Movement, agreed.

“It’s about the connections … people meeting each other, collaborating on projects and growing them behind the scenes,” Kuhn said. “It might not shift policies immediately, but it will shift individuals, and those individuals will have a trickle-down effect onto society as a whole.”

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