Colorado Children, Activists To Stage Rallies Across State As Part Of Youth Led Global Climate Strike

Downtown Denver is often bustling with shoppers and tourists. On Friday, add politically active kids and supportive adults to the mix as they kickstart a week of climate change protests.

>Colorado Climate Strike

To find a full list of Global Climate Strike-related events in Colorado, visit climatestrikeactionweek.co.

Dozens of youth-led rallies will take place across Colorado, and more throughout the country and around the world, beginning Friday and stretching into next week, all part of the Global Climate Strike initiative timed to coincide with Monday’s U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City.

The main Denver protest will start at 11 a.m. in front of Union Station. From there, the crowd of children and adults will march down the 16th Street Mall and end at the state Capitol.

Patagonia and 350 Colorado are just two of the businesses and activist groups standing behind the youth who have galvanized the movement.

“They’re terrified that they won’t have a future,” said Julia Williams, communications coordinator for 350 Colorado, an organization dedicated to helping solve the climate crisis. “Their vision is driving it. We’re playing a supporting role.”

The protests this Friday are partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg , who has staged weekly demonstrations under the heading “Fridays for Future” over the past year, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts against global warming.

RELATED: West wrestles with Colorado River “grand bargain” as changing climate depletes water governed by 1922 compact

A report released last year by a U.N. science panel concluded that there’s still a chance to meet the 2015 Paris climate accord’s goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 compared to pre-industrial times. But achieving this would require drastic measures, including ending the use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal by mid-century.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 19, of Boulder, the youth director of Earth Guardians, urged anyone participating in Friday’s climate rallies “to leverage this moment in history as a time when we change everything.”

“I urge that these moments be followed up by concrete action to implement a concrete recovery plan,” he said. “We have no time to waste. Whether we make it or not is entirely up to each and every one of us.”

“Don’t have time to worry about skeptics”

In the Denver area, Extinction Rebellion, a self-described “international movement” that emphasizes non-violent civil disobedience, plans to protest at Sunken Gardens Park in Denver on Monday. Then, next Thursday, a protest is planned with the goal of closing the polluting Suncor oil refinery north of Denver.

These movements aren’t without their roadblocks, though.

A common criticism of the protests is that these can be unreachable goals. A University of London professor criticized Extinction Rebellion’s approach in an opinion piece for The Guardian. Meanwhile, closing Suncor would be economically risky, considering Commerce City lists the company as the city’s fifth-largest private employer.

Despite the difficulty, Mark Stevens, a district environmental coordinator with Patagonia, thinks immediate action to address climate change is needed.

“We don’t have time to worry about skeptics,” Stevens said. “We’re in a crisis.”

Climate change is an emotional topic, and that’s only magnified by the sense of urgency. Fifteen miles west in Golden, though, an appeal to logic will be made on Friday.

Less emphasis on pathos, more on logos

Blake Dressel acknowledges that the “other side” isn’t going to listen to the emotionally heated arguments for fighting climate change.

That’s why Dressel, an ORISE policy fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy and Golden’s climate strike organizer, is pitching something more tangible with students from the Colorado School of Mines — low-cost products that use clean energy.

“We can talk about stress, but how do we share tangible results and facts that can convince the people that don’t care,” said Dressel, who emphasized that his views do not reflect those of the Department of Energy.

Exhibit A for this argument, he said, are LED light bulbs.

According to Energy Star, a program within the Environmental Protection Agency, LED light bulbs are becoming a competitive option versus traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Though they pose a higher up-front cost, LED bulbs last at least 14 years longer than standard incandescents, cost nearly $6 less per year, and use 9 watts of energy as opposed to 60.

However, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration earlier this month proposed to change a requirement that would have forced light bulbs to be either fluorescent or LED to meet energy efficiency standards.

Dressel thinks that organizing the event and honing in on a tangible argument is relevant to students at Mines. While he doesn’t plan on participating in any of the other events next week, he hopes  Friday’s demonstration will leave a lasting impact.

“Let’s educate Republicans and train advocates,” he said. “This way, you get people interacting and show them that there is a tangible, cost-effective solution.”

“We failed”

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Patagonia’s location on 15th Street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday for Denver’s strike, a show of support that’s on par for a company that also acts as environmental advocates. At 9:30 a.m., store managers will allow protesters to make signs over coffee and donuts.

For Stevens, he sees Friday and the upcoming week as an opportunity to make up to today’s youth for inaction.

“This feels more hopeful, more urgent. It’s inspired and driven by the generation that has the most skin in the game,” he said. “We failed. We’ve known about (climate change) since the 1980s, long before these kids’ parents could have kids. You bet I’m disappointed in us.”

The Associated Press and reporter Charlie Brennan of Boulder’s Daily Camera contributed to this report.

Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2019/09/19/colorado-climate-strike-events/

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