About two dozen people gathered in Smithers to draw attention to climate change in solidarity with thousands of people around the world last weekend.
Last Sunday marked People’s Climate March where 2,808 solidarity events kicked off in 166 countries around the world to bring attention to climate change.
In town, people waved neon signs reading, “Let’s reject the inevitable,” and “Actions not words on global warming” at Goat Park in an effort to draw attention to what they believe is a growing problem.
Carmen Nikal, a coordinator of the rally in Smithers, said climate change is at the back of people’s minds, but there needs to be a continuous discussion around it.
“I want it to be a reminder to people that climate change is at a crisis,” said Nikal. “All of the excitement around climate change has since dissipated. We can’t solve it today, but we can start today. There has to be a re-awakening that this is serious.”
According to Cristina Soto, another coordinator and an environmental consultant, the effects of climate change can already been seen in town.
“Where we live in the northwest, climate change could mean nicer weather for us, but it’s a serious thing,” said Soto. “All you have to do is look at [Kathlyn Glacier] that has disappeared in a decade or two. That thing has retreated so quickly.”
Nikal said that protesters against pipeline projects should also consider rallying against climate change since they are similar topics.
“I think the rallies about the oil pipeline, I think those are really important issues that people have rallied around, but they’re under the umbrella of global warming,” said Nikal.
“But they’re more concrete and easier to get your teeth into because you can say exactly what you do or don’t want, whereas you say we don’t want global warming, that comes up with a hundred different things that need to be addressed.”
Rally organizers believe the solution isn’t as simple as turning off lights when you leave the house or recycling.
“I want people to think not just about the individual actions that we can do, but the kind of action that’s needed at the political level,” said Soto.
All levels of government need to make efforts to implement change, she stressed.
“We have to solve this on all of those levels and there has to be policies, laws, financial incentives,” she said.
Greg Tamblyn joined the rally efforts on Sunday after hearing about the event online.
“People are saying we’ve had enough. We’re not getting any leadership from our politicians and we need to make sure politicians understand that this is an issue that people are concerned about and that they actually put it on their agendas,” said Tamblyn, adding that warmer winters and the beetle epidemic are direct results of climate change.
Nikal hopes the rally will serve as a reminder of the long-term effects of climate change.
“Even if it reminds people who are driving or walking by that climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are a concern and reminds them that world leaders are meeting this week in New York,” said Nikal.
“Our next generation is going to have to pay the price. My daughter and grandson — those are the people who are really going to feel the impacts. We’re robbing the next generation.”
People are making changes in town.
The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition installed a solar roof on a building in Hazelton, said Soto.
Last year, the Village of Telkwa implemented a biomass heating system that burns waste wood from the forest around the community.
The global march was organized by a grassroots organization called 350.org.
On Tuesday, Sept. 23, the United Nations held a climate change summit in New York with world leaders to set the tone before a 2015 conference in Paris, when participants will try to agree on legally-binding climate change regulations.