“We are in our first extermination event”

By Jacob Repsher / Sammy King

The NCC Climate Action Network rallied for government action regarding climate change in the Quad Friday morning. Though attendance was low, something I personally found a bit disheartening, the following event in front of Bethlehem’s city hall was truly a sight to see.

While many students were either sleeping or dreading their morning classes, the group met in the Quad to organize and practice speeches. Melanie Attieh, student and representative of the Sunrise Movement, talked about their goal to “band together to fight the climate crisis and create millions of jobs in the process,” something any college student dreading their foray into the job market (or a burning planet) would be happy to hear.

The group took a few trips around the college, chanting things such as “Corporate greed, we must fight! Polluting the earth is not a right!” and “What does Democracy look like? This is what Democracy looks like!”

A few hours later, Professor David Good founder of The Good Project described the project’s efforts as “working with indigenous people in the Amazon of Venezuela.” Good continued, “We support health care, cultural preservation, and education programs with these indigenous people… On behalf of the indigenous people of the Amazon, whose homes are currently burning, I just want you to know that the destruction of the Amazon and its link to climate change has been going on for a long time,” for those unaware, since the election of president Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Amazon has been scorched by illegal logging, ranching and mining, “The indigenous people of the world are the least responsible for climate change, but yet are mostly affected out of any people.”

I spoke with the president of the Climate Action Network, Ashley Barrasso, who studies Biological Science, about the organization’s stated goals. She phrased it as “Involve and educate students with and about the climate crisis.” Every Thursday in the Laub Lounge, you can find the group selling reusable bamboo utensils and metal straws. In addition, you can find their weekly meetings at the same place on Thursdays at 11 AM.

Having traveled to Bethlehem (and spent an embarrassingly long time trying to discern whether or not there was free parking), I found a much larger gathering in front of the city hall. Barrasso repeated the speech she practiced in the nearly empty Quad, to a now bustling city square, where she succinctly summarized her concerns with “we are in our first extermination event.”

As the crowd began dissipating, I found another NCC student by the name of Jae Villlanueva (they/them), a second-year English major. I asked them for their thoughts on the current government administration’s actions regarding climate change, to which they responded, “I don’t think they’re doing anything. We have solar energy available. There’s plenty of unused deserts that we could be using to power every single US city and it’s clear that the only motivation they seem to care about is money.”

When asked if Villanueva had anything else to say, they said, “The planet is going to die, and if we don’t do anything to stop it, so will we.”

A protestor demonstrating in a gas mask. Photo by/ Jamie Ratchford