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About 250 Cornell, Ithaca High School and other local students gathered at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons to rally against climate change.

Cornell students decry warming world at Global Climate Strike

About 250 students from Cornell, Ithaca High School and other local schools marched, chanted and rallied against a warming world as part of the Global Climate Strike March 15 at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons.

Holding the “Climate Leaders Follow Me” sign, Julie Kapuvari ’19, left, and Zeyu Hu ’19, call for action to combat climate change March 15 at the Global Climate Strike.

More than 1 million young people across the planet – from Paris to Los Angeles, from Montreal to Melbourne – gathered at approximately 2,000 events in 125 countries to save Earth’s future.

“Climate change is a human rights issue,” Cornell student Julie Kapuvari ’19 said at the rally. “The most vulnerable groups are young people and marginalized communities. Young people like us were born into this unsustainable system, and marginalized people have been racially or economically discriminated against. Coastal communities – because of rising sea levels and hurricanes – must turn to a life of becoming a refugee.”

Groups like these need to have the loudest voices in this movement, Kapuvari said. “It’s way too easy to continue business as usual. It’s way too easy to do nothing or to do what’s convenient.

 “The world is looking at us to take on this challenge,” Kapuvari said. “They are looking at the thought leaders, the young students who have a right to a future – a bright and socially just future that isn’t blurred by carbon and corruption.”

Students were holding dozens of cardboard signs, such as “Don’t be a Fossil Fool,” and “The Green Revolution is Happening Now.” Alex Jacobs ’20 – holding a sign that urged, “Keep carbon underground” – said, “I’m supporting this rally to protect the climate. We hope to make our voices loud enough.”

Ithaca High seniors Tilden Chao and Abigail Glickman, who both won a grant for the 2018 Sustainable Tompkins’ Youth Climate Challenge for their project, “Keep It Cool: The Future of Refrigeration,” spoke about reducing hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants, a major contributor to atmospheric problems.

The rally’s guest speaker was Dominic Woolf, Cornell senior research associate in soil and crops sciences. He said we should not fear climate crisis solutions.

Carrying cardboard signs, Cornell students marched and chanted from campus to the Ithaca Commons on March 15, to lend support for the Global Climate Strike.

“Climate change itself is a frightening prospect, but we need to stop being afraid of the solutions,” he said. “We should not be daunted by the need for rapid and ambitious change, because the transition we’re talking about, by and large, is what we would want to do anyway.

“Fixing the climate crisis is a no-regret strategy,” he said. “Solving the climate crisis brings about clean air, clean water and protected food systems and wildlife … This is a fixable problem if we stop making excuses and mobilize… This is what change looks like.”

Zeyu Hu ’19 spoke about how Cornell sent 17 students to the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24, last fall. Hu said he had many opportunities to speak with world leaders.

“Being in the same space with 30,000 of your closest friends – talking about climate change – is an experience like never before,” Hu said, but cautioned, “Do not let your age be the limiting factor. If you dare to speak up, someone will listen to you. And often, it is the people at the top.”

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Gillian Smith