Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Philly voices at today's climate change rally in D.C.

Comments from some of the more than 500 area residents who are at the rally.

Philly voices at today's climate change rally in D.C.

Protesters gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and to act on climate change.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Protesters gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and to act on climate change. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) AP

More than 500 people headed out this morning from Southeastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey, planning to take part in a climate change rally in Washington, D.C.

I'll be posting some of their quotes here throughout the afternoon.

Meanwhile, a bit of background:

Organizers are expening about 20,000 or more people to converge on Washington to voice their support for action on climate change and their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oil from the Tar Sands of Canada to the Gulf Coast.

The demonstration comes after a week of climate change-related events.

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Barack Obama said that “for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change,” adding that “if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

On Wednesday, nearly 50 activists, including Eileen Flanagan of Philadelphia, were arrested in an act of civil disobedience in front of the White House.

The next day, the Government Accountability Office added the financial liability of climate change to its list of “high risk” areas for the federal government, and two senators introduced climate change legislation that, among other things, would impose a fee on emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

Buses were organized by the Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, Earth Quaker Action Team, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future and other groups. They left from Quakertown, Devon, King of Prussia, West Chester, Philadelphia, and Ocean County, N.J.

Who are the local folks and why are they going?

Anna Sofranko, 28, hiker: "Americans need to do more to protect their planet."

Jim Hart, 71, retired teacher: "I figure this earth is good for about 80 years, and that’s about it."

Seaver Wang, 20, Penn student studying environmental science: "If a large number of people care enough to go all the way to Washington, D.C., to promote this issue, it will emphasize how much of the population cares about climate change."

Temple student Evan Hoffman, 30: "We’re at a tipping point here... We want a new future."

Jean Mollack, 58, laid off worker from Doylestown: ""We’re ruining the world with our dependence on fossil fuels, and we need to look into other forms of alt or renewable energy. We hope to put some pressure on the president and begin heading this county toward more dependence on wind and solar energy. And also making pipelines safer and less likely to break."

Liz Robinson, 63, head of the Energy Coordinating Agency: "Everybody should be here. Climate change is the biggest threat to humans. It's critical that everyone is here. There’s so much money involved, and it’s very profitable to burn oil. Unless all of stand against climate change it’ll be too late."

Judy Wicks, 65, former owner of the White Dog Cafe, and now an author: "Things aren’t going to change unless the public speaks." Without support from the public, President Obama "can't make the right decision." She described the rally as "a joyful occasion" with "all different ages and backgrounds." "I feel like this is the issue of our time." 

Grace DiGiovanni, 12, who goes to Green Street Friends: "This is for my generation of kids."

Albert Accoe, 62, security consultant from West Philadelphia: "...for my children and grandchildren."

Paul Spiegel, 53, energy consultant and head of the West Chester engineering firm, Practical Energy Solutions: "I’m here to add my voice to this cause. It’s important to me that we get off of this addiction to fossil fuels. I brought my daughter, and I want her to see that there’s a movement that she can join. ... I hope that the political leaders here in Washington listen and see this group of people disrupting the streets and understand that business as usual is not going to work...We need to build smarter and cleaner."

Sarah Noonan-Ngwane, 16, Chestnut Hill United Church: "I believe that environmental issues should be at the core of what happens over the next four years."

Monica Guess, 17, Chestnut Hill United Church: If the pipeline goes through, "it changes our whole future. It’s a huge deal. She described the rally as "a powerful experience. When 35,000 people come together, that brings the issue to the forefront."

Joy Bergey, 57, a PennFuture activist and longtime member of Chestnut Hill United Church. She came with 14 others from the church, including eight kids from a confirmation class. She said she's been fighting the battle to stop climate change since 1979, when she recalls having her first argument with someone who said it wasn't happening. "I will not stop fighting. To me, it’s just so important. It’s global ... It’s such a crisis unfolding before our eyes... I want there to be a livable planet for all God’s creatures."

Walter Sullivan, 52, director of Quaker affairs at Haverford College: He brought about 30 students with him. "I am here because this is the last chance for us to make a new policy and build a new energy economy that will allow the children of today to grow up in a safe world. I am here because President Obama has the power and the authority to end the Keystone XL pipeline. And I am here because only numbers of people in the streets is going to have the power to undo the money interests of the fossil fuel industry."

Lina Blount, 22, senior at Bryn Mawr College: "It's about my life. I’ve gone to a wonderful institution that taught me all these great skills in the classroom about how to enter the world as a socially responsible and informed human being. I need to do that."

Jim Wylie, 55, a Sierra Club volunteer who sells electric bicycles: "We are here to send a message to President Obama that this Keystone XL pipeline is a bad idea... I’m here to add my voice to this cause. It’s important to me that we get off of this addiction to fossil fuels." He said he also brought his daughter, a college junior. "I want her to see that there’s a movement that she can join."

Karen Shaffran, 47, who teaches science at Cedarbrook Middle School in Cheltenham Township and attended the rally with 15 students:"We're here to show solidarity with our president and hope that he acts on his words to put climate change at the forefront." The students carried signs they made last week, reading "It's time to act, Mr. President," and "The sun and wind are free."

Nancy Grossman, 53, mom, pharmacist and yoga instructor from Jackson, Ocean County, N.J.: She was already convinced climate change was "a really serious issue," and then Superstorm Sandy hit. She's seen the damage first hand, helping a friend dismantle her storm-wrecked home. "It'st just one disaster after another," she said. "I don't know what other proof people are looking for."

John Trudeau, 53, a social worker from Germantown: "I have become convinced this is a matter of social justice. We are, for our own benefit, exploiting a lot of peoples in Third World countries. I think it’s very wrong."

He called today's rally "powerful, moving ... I'm glad I went."

Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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