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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Sustainability April 26, 2017

Marching for Climate Justice

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When Americans gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29, McKenna Eckerline ’18J and Claire Seaman ’20 will be there.

Eckerline and Seaman are among the leaders of Smith’s Green Team, who will be traveling to Washington, D.C. with others on the bus organized by the Center for the Environment (CEEDS) for the day-long gathering.

More than 50 people—Smithies and faculty, and some Mount Holyoke students—will join the bus trip, leaving Smith around 1 a.m. Saturday and returning 24 hours later.

“The march is a great opportunity for Smithies to take action,” Eckerline says. “Sometimes it feels like all you can do is write letters. The march is an opportunity to increase awareness, in a very visible way, about issues that really matter.”

Among those issues are:

  • possible elimination of the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Act,
  • construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline,
  • possible increased coal mining, and
  • possible U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords.

Seaman sees the march as a “positive protest”—a chance to build solidarity by focusing on topics related to climate justice.

“This isn’t about slurs and insults,” she says. “We want to think more productively about where we go next.”

Eckerline notes that “climate issues have become more intersectional” and less partisan in recent months. “I think most people on both sides of the aisle would agree that climate change is real,” she says. Pointing to recent severe weather events around the globe, she notes that four of the last five years have been the hottest on record.

Seaman agrees, noting that planning for the march has already prompted conversations among people from different political spheres “who have the same hopes and fears for our planet.”

“Climate issues matter,” Eckerline says. “We want to move climate justice to the forefront. These issues are urgent.”