One week after the Science March drew thousands to the nation’s capital, marchers once again took to the streets Saturday to advocate for the preservation of U.S. laws, regulations and agreements pertaining to climate change.
The 90 degree weather didn’t stop crowds from showing up for the Peoples Climate March — the latest rally voicing concerns over President Donald Trump’s policies on environmental issues.
Last week, Washington was also the epicenter of Earth Day’s nationwide march for science. In yesterday’s march, which included 200 smaller sister marches across the country, demonstrators sought to make another bold statement by protesting on Trump’s 100th day in office.
Climate activists have been increasingly frustrated with Trump’s intentions to repeal some environmental protection policies, primarily those implemented under his predecessor, former President Barack Obama. Many fear Trump’s disapproval of the Paris climate accord, support of coastline drilling and endorsement of the American coal industry could erase the progress that has been made in reducing the world’s reliance on fossil fuels as a source of energy. A common worry among the more than 100 UMD students in attendance was the direction of the EPA under the new administration.
“The proposed budget for 2018 is going to slash the budget for the EPA,” said MaryPIRG Environmental Campaign Coordinator Deanna Stephen, a sophomore environmental science and English double major. “That’s a huge concern for us.”
Protesters parading brightly colored signs sang, danced and chanted throughout the afternoon as they made their way from the Capitol, around the White House and ultimately to the Washington Monument.
“It’s like a carnival atmosphere, everyone is having fun,” said senior sociology major Oliver Owens about the march. “The idea isn’t necessarily [to push for] a coherent policy proposal. It’s just to show that there are a lot of people that are on roughly the same page on environmental issues whose opinions aren’t being heard.”
Whether Trump’s first 100 days are indicative of how he plans to handle environmental matters in the future remains to be seen. However, the recent outpour of support for science and climate is perpetuating a conversation that activists hope will have an impression on more than just the president.
“[The protests] will send a message,” sophomore environmental science and policy major Shyama Srikkanth said. “The only question is who’s going to take notice. If it’s not the federal government, there will be people around the world watching and around the country watching who can start by taking action in their most local and state levels.”
Photos by Noah Fortson.