by Ben Hopper
On Friday, September 24th, Ramapo College will hold a demonstration in support of intersectional climate change action. The event, sponsored by Sunrise RCNJ and 1Step, in alignment with Friday’s Futures, will be held at 6 pm at the Arch.
Fridays For Future is a “youth-led and -organized global climate strike movement.” The movement began in August 2018, with then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg who began a school strike by protesting outside of the Swedish Parliament. Initially alone, Thunberg was eventually joined by other like-minded activists in her protest. It was on September 8, 2018, when Thunberg, along with her fellow activists made the decision to keep the protests going until the Swedish government established a plan of action to prevent the temperature from increasing 2 degrees Celsius. It was then as well that students all over the world were encouraged to get active in the fight against climate change as well.
The goal of the demonstration is to address intersectional climate change action. This is in regard to the fact that climate change is connected to other serious societal issues, including racism, sexism, ableism, and class inequality. The climate crisis is not affecting people or areas equally. Those in the Global South as well as other marginalized groups are more at risk due to the systematic issues of colonization, neo-colonization, and imperialism. The Global South, along with other marginalized groups (BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+, etc.) are classified as MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas).
The importance of intersectionality in the fight against climate change is not lost on Sunrise RCNJ president Miriam Sokolka. “Environmental activism is useless without intersectionality. Without acknowledging problems such as racism, sexism, ableism, colonialism, and classism within our work, we fail to support those who are most affected by climate change,” said Sokolska.
Along with intersectionality in the fight against climate change, this protest will also address local concerns. One of those being the proposed Tennessee pipeline expansion, a pipeline that runs nearby to campus. The expansion proposes the building of more compressor stations which release toxic gases. These gases are both bad for people’s health but also harmful to the environment. Along with this, concern has been raised about the consequences of a potential accident regarding the pipeline. This is due to one of the compressor stations and their proximity to the Monksville Reservoir. An accident has the potential to contaminate the water supply for part of northeastern New Jersey.
Those involved with the upcoming climate demonstration are enthusiastic about how the event will go. One such person is the president of 1Step, Karen Ortega, who said, “It’s been really amazing to witness Ramapo sustainability student leaders come together and plan this. I hope we get the turnout we’re looking forward to and that everyone leaves collectively from our action, educated and fueled to continue fighting against things that affect us negatively.”
As well, Danielle Bongiovanni of Ramapo Green, believes this event will demonstrate how people can come together for change. “I hope this climate action opportunity demonstrates what can be accomplished when we unite for a common cause. The event is dedicated to bringing attention to how the movement for sustainability and the movement for equality are inseparable. It is up to us to demand overdue improvements that will raise everyone’s quality of life,” said Bongiovanni. “September 24th will be an example of how seemingly small actions like writing a letter to a representative and voicing your beliefs are essential for larger changes, and I can’t wait to celebrate how far we have come.”
An event where participants can create signs prior to the demonstration will be held today, Wednesday 22 at 5:30 pm. This sign-making event will take place in room A106, all supplies needed will be provided.
The climate crisis is serious and needs to be addressed. That’s why it’s important for people to come together to get informed and fight for positive change.