“Let’s scream, let’s shout, our time is running out.”
Chanting this and other phrases, more than 150 people of all ages in Salmon Arm joined hundreds of protests for action on global warming around the world last Friday.
They walked together, many carrying placards, from the Ross Street Plaza to city hall, while motorists honked their vehicle horns in support.
#ClimateStrike Salmon Arm and hundreds or groups like it kicked off a week of action that will end, according to environmental group Canada-350.org, with an enormous and historic mobilization Sept. 27.
The local walk was organized by biologist Julia Beatty, who acted as MC as the crowd gathered.
Speaker Neskonlith elder Louis Thomas said it would be great if 10,000 people had showed up, adding that would send a strong message. Tara Willard of the Secwepemc Nation followed up with a song honouring Mother Earth.
Jim Cooperman, president of the Shuswap Environmental Action Society, said over-consumption is at the root of the problem.
“As long as the planes keep flying and people carry on with their meetings, including climate change conferences, and vacations, as long as the container ships keep bringing more plastic goods from Asia, as long as we continue to fuel our lifestyles with coal, oil and gas, as long as forests continue to be cut and burned, and as long as the majority of farmland continues to be utilized for meat and dairy, global temperatures will continue to increase,” he said.
Ecologist Barry Wilson pointed to actions people can take immediately to make a difference.
One is not to trade in cell phones every year, but to make them last five years.
He talked about all the resources their manufacture devours, and said he’s calculated that 1.47 billion smartphones will be manufactured and sold in the world this year.
Entomologist Art Borkent spoke about the decline of insect numbers, due to factors including climate change and pesticides.
A solution, he said, is for people to care deeply about the planet and all it holds.
He also pointed out people are taught to do things alone, but when people do things together, life is better.
Three of the five federal political candidates inthe riding spoke at the event. To applause, NDP candidate Harwinder Sandu spoke of pipelines, and asked: “What will we do with the money if we don’t have a planet to live on?”
Liberal candidate Cindy Derkaz commended the youth present, saying, “You are making history by taking charge of our future, by demanding better of us.”
Green Party candidate Marc Reinarz said the oil industry is not the enemy. The worst enemy, he said, is the politician who says he or she recognizes climate change is a problem, but blocks all action that leads to mitigation.
City councillors Tim Lavery and Louise Wallace Richmond spoke, also commending the youth for their strength and dedication.
The afternoon closed with words from four young women.
Mirella Ramsay, founder of the Mirella Project, said the job is to make Salmon Arm the most eco-friendly town in the world.
“We want nothing more and nothing less,” she said in encouraging people to get on board with the cause.
Students Sarah Johnston, Maggie Beckner and Fiona Young came to demand action.
Beckner said young people don’t need the hope or gratitude of adults, they need them to take responsibility for what’s been done and take action.
Young said fixing the mistakes will cost a fortune, but saving the earth is priceless. And Johnston said the planet is at a tipping point.
“You either give my generation a future, or you don’t. What happens now is up to all of us,” she said.