Friday, October 19th, 2018

UMaine students rally for climate change action

Students from nine different Maine colleges marched through capitol park protesting the government indifference to a growing global problem: climate change.
Brian Gordon
Students from nine different Maine colleges marched through capitol park protesting the government indifference to a growing global problem: climate change.

Posted on April 20, 2015 in News
By Brian Gordon

In anticipation of Earth Week, nearly 300 students from all over the state came together on Saturday, April 11 on the steps of the capitol building to protest climate change and government’s apathy towards it. The students were organized under Maine Students for Climate Justice along with the environmental group 350 Maine. Nearly every college in the state was represented and students from USM, UMO, UNE, Bates, Bowdoin, Unity, Colby, College of the Atlantic and UNH all made the trip to Augusta.

The students called their protest “Maine Rising.”

“We are Generation Climate, because our generation will inherit the burden of the climate crisis, and we are rising because now is the time to take collective action to change history,” the group organizers wrote in a press release.

“Action is needed. We can’t be complicit in the human rights abuses of the fossil fuel industry in order to meet our own energy needs,” said Iris SanGiovanni, a political science sophomore USM student who coordinated and spoke at the protest. “We, as Generation Climate, demand no new fossil fuel infrastructure. We need to put all state investments in clean-energy solutions.”

By starting with building no new infrastructure like the tar sands pipeline that was blocked in South Portland this past year, MSCJ says it’s a step in the right direction to think about alternative energy.

“A year ago we asked the board of trustees to divest from fossil fuels and put the eight million dollar endowment into sustainable, renewable stocks that are growing and they didn’t,” said George Belanger, Divest UMaine member and senior economics major at Orono.

According to Belanger, while the board of trustees did vote to divest from fossil fuels, they should be putting that money into solar power and emerging technologies that don’t harm the planet, because if they don’t they’re missing an opportunity.

The rally paused with fists in the air for a symbolic moment of silence at Governor LePage’s residence, the Blaine House, a stone’s throw from the capitol. After standing still and blocking traffic, the crowd chanted, “You sold us out, LePage!” and “LePuke!”

In addition to the college students, 11-year-old Luke SekeraFlanders of Fryeburg spoke out against Nestle’s Poland Spring plants around the state pumping public water out of the ground and selling it back to the public at inflated prices.

“It’s devastating corporate greed.” said Sekera-Flanders. “We need to secure security for our future. Nestle takes that away and sells it in little plastic bottles.Only 25 percent of which are recycled.”

The students hoped their cries and chants wouldn’t fall on deaf ears. They see government inaction as inexcusable. Cat Fletcher, a member of Divest UMaine and a student at Orono, closed by saying, “We need politicians who put the planet over profits.”

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