AHS students participate in Climate Rally


Amory Fischer

30 AHS students spent Sunday, Feb. 17 in DC participating in the largest Climate rally in US history.

Kaitlyn Miller, Managing Editor

On Sunday, Feb. 17, 30 Albemarle students loaded onto a bus at eight am to make the two and a half hour drive to DC, despite the chilling weather.  They were determined to help make a difference in the world by participating in the Forward On Climate Rally, which attracted over 40,000 protesters from across the nation, making it the largest climate rally in US history.

One of the main issues the protesters were calling for was the presidential veto of the Keystone Pipeline.
“The Keystone Pipeline is a is a pipeline system that will transport  crude oil from regions in northeastern Caanada to multiple destinations in the United States,” senior Hannah Burgess said.  “As we know from previous disasters, oil spills can be extremely devastating to the environment.”

She added, “even though this pipeline will be built with top rate materials and maintained regularly, substances like crude oil are very hazardous and eventually will lead to pollution in the water, air and soil. It would be put in regions of the US where it could endanger animals, farms, ranches, and even small cities if a disaster were to occur. If the Keystone Pipeline is passed and built, the question won’t be whether or not there will be an an accident, its when.”

Protesters were also in DC to “[raise] a general awareness about climate change and the harmful effects oil drilling, fracking, and tar sands have on the environment,” senior Kate Duggan said.  “The oil industry has a disproportionate amount of influence in the government.  One resource the oil industry doesn’t have is the voice of the people.”  Duggan added that some people drove for days in order to participate in the rally.
“There were people from every generation, race, religion, and socio-economic class all advocating for the same thing,” Burgess said.  “Everyone was very positive and upbeat. There were all types of outfits, even a guy covered in plastic bags who somewhat resembled a sea anemone, and endless display of posters and banners.”

“The best part of the rally was the war cries of the Native American speakers. Those were some bada** women,” Duggan added.

The trip was organized by senior Amory Fischer, who was given a grant from the Sierra Club to partially pay the cost of taking a group to D.C.  Along with the 30 Albemarle students and faculty members Chuck Pace and Jill Garnett, around 70 other Charlottesville citizens joined in the protest.

“I heard about the rally the day the Sierra Club first announced it in November at a Bill McKibben’s ‘We are greater than Fossil Fuels’ talk,” Fischer said. “Our 350 Chapter started organizing that month.”

“I can’t describe how proud I was of our AHS students Sunday!” Garnett said. “ I am totally in awe of people who not only believe in protecting our environment, but take on the hassles of organizing an event like this.”

“I don’t know if it will ultimately sway Obama to veto the pipeline, but I definitely think that it showed that climate change and clean energy are issues many Americans care about,” Duggan said.

“It’s hard to know if any politicians really paid attention, however, I know it brought solidarity to all the people there,” Garnett said.  “[we] have the support of tens of thousands across this country — we’re not alone.”

“50 years ago, people gathered together with Martin Luther King Jr. in the same place. Today we can all come together to protest something we believe in whether we are black, white, gay, straight, or somewhere in between,” Burgess said.

“In this day and age, the environmental movement is OUR civil rights movement. Not even a century ago, equal rights for all races was thought impossible, but today we all share the same spaces and don’t think twice. Now imagine if we keep fighting for the environment how our world will be in 50 years.”