A total of eight students from Notre Dame's GreeND club as well as additional faculty made the trip to attend the recent People's Climate March in New York City.
The march took place on Sunday, September 21st and was spurred by environmental activist Bill McKibben's open invitation, published in Rolling Stone, to promote awareness about global climate issues and call for immediate change. The particular date and location of the march was due to the United Nations convening in New York for the U.N. Climate Summit on September 23.
Students from not only Notre Dame but also Saint Mary's traveled together to New York City to participate. Glaubirsel Figueroa, a freshman at Saint Mary's who attended the march, said, "This march is calling people to take action against climate change, and it's calling on people to organize and make changes in their communities because it is an urgent topic and an urgent issue. GreeND is a club that focuses on sustainability and promoting protection of the environment, so we thought that it would be a good representation of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's to go and show our support. The more you get in a movement like that, the better, because it makes more of a statement, an impact. So we saw the urgency and thought, let's get as many people as we can to go."
According to the People's Climate March website, this year's march broke records. There were an estimated 400,000 participants, including 1,574 participating organizations, making it the largest climate march in history. Said Figueroa, "It was an initial amount of 310,000 marchers. It just kept growing until by the end there were so many people that they asked for everyone to begin dispersing because not everybody could cross through that finishing point or else it would have taken another couple of hours."
50,000 of those marchers were college students. "That day everyone that was on the subway was going to the march," Figueroa said. "We were all there for that common cause. We saw a lot of people there that were our age group; there was a lot of emphasis on youth and youth taking a stand on this issue. It will affect us the most."
The march spurred replications worldwide on the same day, including marches in London, Paris and Melbourne, but none surpassed the amount of participants or immense publicity as that in New York.
"It was one huge group of people united for one cause, and it was a very powerful experience," Figueroa said. "It's our responsibility to try to get this movement to become a bigger presence in politics and in the world so that a change can happen."