GLOBAL STRIKE

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PLANET, NOT PROFIT—Ishpeming High School seniors Kyle Erickson (left) and Tyler Larson (right) march for climate, chanting to implement the “Green New Deal.” The march took place on NMU campus Friday, Sept. 20, as part of a world-wide initiative to demand urgent action on climate change. A youthful presence led the cause across the globe. Denali Drake/NW

Mary McDonough

Over 150 students, professors and community members marched around NMU’s campus on Friday, Sept. 20, in support of the growing initiative to combat climate change and was one of thousands of similar protests happening all over the world. 

The crowd met with NMU President Fritz Erikson and ASNMU President Cody Mayer outside of Weston Hall in order to talk about how the campus might be able to move forward with sustainability. Erikson explained some of the larger scale plans in development to help improve the campus. 

“We are exploring, involving a partnership with a solar farm to bring more solar generated, renewable energy to campus,” Erikson said. “There are groups working with these issues.” 

Mayer addressed questions about the amount of leftover food in dining facilities and how that might be able to help the larger community, but he explained there are more complicated details.

“We looked into it in the past, trying to give excess food to the local homeless shelters. But there’s a certain time period between when they’re served and when they have to be eaten,” Mayer said. “We’re trying to figure out a way to still make that work.”

Junior political science major and NMU College Democrats President Rebecka Miller took charge in organizing the strike. But she said that even with such a large turn out, the march on campus was one piece of a much larger puzzle. 

 “It felt amazing to see so many people come out in support of the Green New Deal and in support of green initiatives. We honestly thought only 20 people would show up,” Miller said. “We began working on this as a group for a few weeks but people and young activists have been working on organizing these strikes for years.”

While many had concerns that had more to do with campus sustainability, the march itself held a larger focus on the Green New Deal. While the bill seeks to change many different processes to make them more sustainable, its largest goal is to lower the dependency on fossil fuels and reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Voting on the Green New Deal began in March. Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters abstained from the vote. 

Sophomore political science major Matt Fahey attended on behalf of the Green Coalition, a student organization working to show sustainability across all fields. Fahey explained that one of the main purposes of this march was to push Peters toward a decision. 

“[Peters] is straying further and further from the policy. He said he wants a version of it but we just don’t have that time,” Fahey said. “We want change.” 

Among the protesters was freshman biochemistry major Emily Brewer, who wanted to point out to Peters that the benefits of the Green New Deal outweigh the damages. 

“It needs to be looked at as a long term investment rather than short term cost,” Brewer said. “It’s a very pressing issue that needs to be looked at as soon as possible.”

Aside from the calls for Peters to support the bill was also a push for a carbon tax. This is a price put on carbon and fossil emissions in order to encourage a lesser dependency and more focus on renewable energy, according to the Tax Policy Center.

While some of the protestors were NMU students or Marquette community members, there were also a number of secondary school aged students there to bring attention to the threats of climate change. Ishpeming High School senior Drake Asgaard was urged by his principal to skip class and be a part of the movement he’s passionate about. 

“My principal encouraged me to come out here. If it’s something you believe in with your heart, you should follow your dreams,” Asgaard said. “I think it’s something that we need to take action on, we are definitely past the point of just turning off the light when we leave the room.”

Eight-year-old Harlow Leisure of Marquette came not only to support the cause but also ensure that the Earth is fixed and she can live out her dream job.

“I am really scared of it (climate change) and want to stop it before it gets worse than it already is,” Leisure said. “I’ve been narrowing it down a ton and my dream is to be one of the earth workers of NASA.”