From Sept. 17 to 21, West Chester University held a Climate Emergency Week. Events such as public speakers and film viewings were meant to unite students against climate change. The week coincided with the national climate strike on Sept. 20, prompting students and faculty to walk out of class and rally at the West Chester County Courthouse.
Tuesday saw the journalist and author Ken Illegunas discuss his novel “Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and sort of illegal) Hike Along the Keystone XL Pipeline.” As the title implies, Illegunas is an environmental activist that traveled over 12,000 miles along the route of the would-be Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline is an environmental concern due to the possibilities of spills and greenhouse gas emissions.
“[The book is] about coming to terms with climate change and figuring out what our role as individuals should be in confronting something so big and so out of our hands,” says Illegunas.
Dr. Karl Hausker, a leader in the World Resources Institute, spoke about the possibilities of emission-free infrastructure in 2050. The Wednesday lecture was aided by his work with clean energy resources and analysis. The 2015 documentary “Bikes vs. Cars” was shown Thursday evening in the Sykes Union Theatre. The documentary covers the war between activists and the multi-billion dollar automobile industry as the activists push for bike pathways.
How does this relate to climate crisis? The bikers exist in larger numbers as city-goers try to combat the harmful emissions of cars. Pushback against the creation of bike paths is not only due to the cost it would create, but also is part of a bigger issue concerning the automobile industry.
The largest event of the week was the rally on Friday, Sept. 20 outside of the West Chester County Courthouse. The global walkout event is inspired by climate activist Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl that has continuously challenged politicians on their lack of concern for the climate crisis. This event mirrors her 2018 strike against the Swedish government, which was her first internationally-noticed effort.
The rally drew community members of all ages. Children gave individual speeches about the impact of emissions, deforestation, single-use plastics and more detrimental activities. Speakers rallied against the current federal government and the way it neglects climate change.
A 15-year-old from Henderson High School said, “When the older generations say young people don’t have a say, I say that young people are qualified because we are the ones living in this new world affected by climate change.”
Fifth graders at the rally had a lot to say about climate change:
“We can all work together as one to help stop global warming.” -Meghan Helmke
“I think Congress needs to pass the Green New Deal.” -Luke Brooks
“People are the villains of climate change but can also be the heros.” -Will Darwon
“I think climate change is terrible, and we need to do something about it right now or we will not have a future.” -Jonah Kessler
“Today’s event was cool, and we should do more of these.” -Reese Masielol
“I hope that people can change climate change.” -Kadence Williams
Saturday’s International Day of Peace dictates the end of West Chester’s Climate Emergency Week, but is only a preface to that of New York City. The United Nations Climate Action Summit will kick off another week of activism in the city that never sleeps.
President Trump will attend high-level meetings at the summit. His staunch disbelief in climate change is a topic of controversy. After withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, many are interested to see what statements he makes at the United Nations Summit.
Besides Trump, Thunberg will also be in attendance at the summit. After leading one of the largest global walkout events, the youth activist has become one of the biggest names at the event. In a speech in front of the British Parliament, Thunberg gave the same call to action she has challenged all adults with.
“We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back,” said Thunberg.
Caroline Helms is a first-year student majoring in English. CH923621@wcupa.edu