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Temperatures are on the rise and so is Climate Change

(Photo courtesy of University of Exeter). “Person holding a sign that says ‘There’s No Planet B’.”

Jonathan Hatem
Connector Staff

On September 7, a group of Extinction Rebellion protesters stopped the U.S. Open semifinals between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova for 49 minutes. On September 15, protesters outside the Museum of Modern Art in New York City protested the museum’s ties to Henry Kravis, whose private equity firm is connected to the fossil fuel industry. On October 3, climate protesters made their voices heard at an insurance conference in Colorado. They were protesting the insurance industry’s role in insuring fossil fuel projects while recalling insurance policies on places negatively affected by the climate that fossil fuels cause. These three separate instances are all examples of recent group activism in the fight against climate change. 

Lori Weeden, an Environmental Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor at UMass Lowell, describes climate change primarily as the warming of the Earth. In part, this is due to an increase in molecules in the atmosphere that absorb heat, such as CO2. She said, “Science has been aware that the atmosphere contains molecules that absorb heat and that the burning of fossil fuels adds to the volume of those molecules.” 

In another year of record-breaking temperatures and worsening environmental disasters, Weeden says that action now is crucial. Climate activists are attempting to prevent a global rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius over the average temperature around the Industrial Revolution. The Earth is already over 1.2 degrees Celsius above this average. Weeden said, “Now if we want to survive, we have to take drastic measures, and that’s what this protest is about.” 

The actions mentioned above are a small selection of the climate action that has been going on in recent months. Another example is Climate Week NYC, an annual week of solidarity and climate action held from September 17 to 24 earlier this year.  

According to Weeden, the primary focus of the week was to push for the slowing down or stopping of Climate Change. William Lefebvre, a UMass Lowell student, said that a wide range of environmental groups aided in the organization of the event.  

Actions included marches, speeches and protests of institutions that support the continued usage of fossil fuels, such as oil companies and banks. Weeden said, “It’s very telling the amount of profits that the oil companies made during COVID and post-COVID when those gas prices were so high…While we were paying 4 or 5 dollars a gallon, they were making record profits.” 

Another focus of these protests has been President Biden’s approval of fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Willow Project, says Weeden. MVP is a natural gas pipeline spanning from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. The Willow Project is an oil drilling venture in Alaska.  

In response to Biden’s statements that the Willow Project would bring down gas prices, Weeden said, “We’re not going to get a drop of oil out of [the Willow Project] probably for at least a decade.” Lefebvre mentioned that these fossil fuel projects often go through land that people live in. “This land often belongs to Indigenous peoples,” Lefebvre said.  

According to Weeden, the protestors are, “Demanding that we stop producing fossil fuels, we stop this whole energy of using fossil fuels and we stop it now and they’re asking for President Biden to take it seriously and end fossil fuel production in the United States.” She mentioned the importance of Generation Z in these protests and expressed her admiration. 

Members of the U.S. government have also been crucial in lending their influence on the protests and expressing their commitment to acting against climate change. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representative of New York’s 14 congressional district, Cori Bush, representative of Missouri’s 1 district, and Elizabeth Warren, senator of Massachusetts, all gave their support to Climate Week, including many others. Weeden expressed her pride for people in Generation Z, who are often leading the charge against climate change.  

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