The upcoming climate strike is generating a lot of buzz around Vermont these days. We say that’s a good thing.
This Friday kicks off a week of events around the state aimed at raising awareness of climate justice and the role climate change is having on our state.
Dozens of public events are scheduled, including climate strike rallies, teach-ins, die-ins, sing-ins, art projects, musical performances, dances, bike rallies, worship services and more.
Multiple towns and cities are taking part including: Barre, Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Castleton, Chester, Craftsbury, Hartland, Jericho, Manchester, Lyndonville, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport, Norwich, Putney, Randolph, Ripton, Rutland, Sharon, South Burlington, South Strafford, Vergennes, Waitsfield, Wells, West Rupert and Worcester.
A complete list of events is available at https://vermontclimatestrike.org/events/list/
Much focus is being placed on young people’s involvement. And it is true, our children will lead and take part in the climate strike, which is happening around the globe.
As Brenda Siegel, of Brattleboro, noted in a recent op-ed, “We are in the middle of a major threat to our lives and more importantly to our children’s lives. We have known for many years that the looming threat of the climate crisis was to reach a breaking point. That point has long passed. We have not done enough. We have eleven years before the effects of climate change will be beyond human control. Our children have been begging us to do something different, and we have failed them.”
Siegel and others argue we all must become more “fluent in the language of climate” in order to first understand the impacts on natural resources (air, water, soil), and then coordinate action to reverse and resolve climate change.
But children are not the only ones declaring a climate emergency.
Businesses across Vermont are doing it, taking Friday off to join in the climate strike. Higher education institutions like Sterling College in Craftsbury are also taking a bold stance.
“We in higher education confront these threats and take action. We must redesign higher education to address social and ecological disruption. We believe that the world needs to prepare a generation with the knowledge, skills and responsibility to become leaders in their communities,” the college writes on its website. “Sterling is the first college in the world to adopt a mission and vision that focuses on the problems caused by extractive economic growth and consumption. With a half century of focus on the human relationship with the natural world, Sterling is poised to make a difference in thousands of communities around the world.”
And last week, one of the state’s largest unions took a stand.
The Vermont State Employees Association membership voted at its annual meeting to back a proclamation that declares a climate emergency.
According to a news release, “the members of (VSEA) call on all union members and all governments and peoples worldwide to declare a Climate Emergency; and to initiate a just transition and climate emergency mobilization effort to reverse global warming by restoring near pre-industrial global average temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations, that immediately halts the development of all new fossil fuel infrastructure, rapidly phases out all fossil fuels and the technologies which rely upon them, ends greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible, initiates an effort to safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere, transitions to regenerative agriculture, ends the sixth mass extinction, and creates and guarantees high-quality, well-paying jobs with comprehensive benefits for those who will be impacted by this transition.”
Earlier in the year, the Washington County chapter of the VSEA adopted similar language, with the promise it was taking it to the greater membership in September.
The declaration and others like it being put forth around the world are part of a global movement inspired by young people and Fridays for the Future, an effort to mobilize public will to avoid the growing prospect of global catastrophe.
They all infer that Sept. 20 will be the beginning of the answer.
For many, the strike — and climate change in general — is strictly a political issue. Politics aside, with so many groups and sectors of our state (and nation) mobilizing, it does not feel like that emergency can be ignored anymore. Regardless of age or motive, the level of concern is heating up.
In case of emergency, act.
The full statement of the VSEA declaration can be found online at: https:bit.ly/918VSEA-Statement