On February 17, 2013, over 40,000 people gathered at the Washington Monument at our nation’s capital for the biggest climate change rally in U.S. history. Presented by 350.org, the Sierra Club, and 135 other organizations and their members, the Forward on Climate Rally united people from across the country to take a stand on the climate crisis that our world faces. The leading cause for the rally was to urge president Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a proposed pipeline to stretch from Canada through several U.S. states. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest on earth, containing vast amounts of cancer-causing toxins and heavy metals; a Keystone XL spill would destroy farmland, pollute waterways and put all drinking water in its wake at risk. In short, the Keystone XL pipeline would spell disaster for the environment.
Among these climate activists were several members of the Millersville Biology Club. Adorned with posters declaring their fidelity to the cause, the Biology Club joined the masses of climate change do-gooders gathered around the Washington Monument.
Numerous jumbo-trons showed the action occurring on stage, where participants were led in chants and movements. Many speakers were featured, ranging from actress Rosario Dawson to Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation in British Columbia. Chief Thomas explained that it is too late for some regions in Canada, where tar sands oil is already destroying aboriginal peoples’ water supply and increasing exposure to toxic substances, aside from wreaking havoc on rich wildlife, forests and wetlands. Chief Thomas hopes that the U.S. can avoid such a fate; she stated that the Forward on Climate rally proves that she and her people are not alone in their fight to stop the expansion of tar sands and undertake climate change.
After cheering along with the inspirational speakers at the Washington Monument on the National Mall, the rally-goers marched down Constitution Avenue and up 17th Street past the White House, waving their assorted posters, flags and banners, chanting things like, “Hey, it’s hot in here! Too much carbon in the atmosphere!” and, “Hey, Obama! We don’t need no pipeline drama!” Thousands of solidarity 20+ climate rallies were held throughout the country for those who couldn’t make it to D.C. and over one million activists took a stand online. Despite all this support, on March 1st, the Department of State released an Environmental Impact Statement basically saying the Keystone XL pipeline would not be a serious threat to the environment despite numerous climate scientists’ statements otherwise. It all comes down to Obama’s decision that will likely be made in a few months.
The Biology Club remains hopeful. Says president Julie Weicheld, “I heard this was going to be the biggest climate change rally in history and I wanted Millersville to be represented in some way. The rally was a one of a kind experience— to see the diversity of people all standing together for the environment gave me hope that there is a strong enough movement to bring about a change.” If you are interested in joining the Biology Club, email firstname.lastname@example.org.