Young people lead climate change rally on Capitol steps; demand lawmakers act


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Climate change has been in the national headlines a lot recently, so Midstate residents are picking up on that momentum.

Several dozen people gathered Friday for a climate strike on the Capitol steps.

The climate strikers, organized in part by PA Climate Strike, rallied at the Capitol against what they perceived as political inaction against climate change; a big sticking point was the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords.

They also state the importance of preserving nature so that future generations, such as their own, are able to prosper as well.

“Climate change isn’t just bad news for the planet, it’s bad news for us,” said Natasha Sood, a med student at Penn State Harrisburg. “Our blatant disregard for our home has left coral reefs off the coast of Australia, polar bears in the Arctic and marine turtles in Africa struggling to survive.”

It was billed as a Friday’s for the Future movement. Romy Marszalek decided to rally on her 18th birthday instead of celebrating.

“As a citizen of Pennsylvania, all I can do is advocate for a better tomorrow and give people the knowledge and tools to be better people,” Marszalek said.

Among other things, ralliers want federal and state lawmakers to pass harsher restrictions on carbon emissions and adopt more renewable sources of energy.

“We demand cleaner technologies from industries and mindful personal choices made by each one of us,” Ilyse Kazar said.

“Tidal waves and hurricanes, glaciers melting. Who’s to blame? Our ecosystem is out of whack,” said Lara Vracarich, of PA Climate Strike.

Their rally was held the same day actress Jane Fonda and actor Sam Waterston were arrested during a weekly climate protest in Washington D.C. Also Friday, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke in Canada.

“We are not doing this because we want to. We are not doing it because it’s fun. We are doing this because our future is at stake,” Thunberg said.

Back in Harrisburg, youth are also leading the charge.

“We refuse to sit and be quiet, we refuse to let the Amazon rain forest become the Amazon desert,” Cedar Cliff High School senior Autumn Oaster said. “We are sick and tired of hearing climate change in political conversation because climate change is not a political debate.”

“The climate crisis is not an isolated issue, the crisis intersects with the lives of real people,” said fellow Cedar Cliff senior, Jose Perez-Zetune.

Another global day of climate rallies is scheduled for Nov. 29.

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