Bowdoin College students Ayana Harscoet (left) and Perrin Milliken lead protesters in a song Friday morning. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — Bowdoin College students and community members joined thousands of protesters across the world Friday, marching, walking and striking to demand justice and change in the face of what they called a “climate crisis.” 

“We are striking for the water we drink, the air that we breathe and the land that we live on for the people we love,” one student said. 

Young people in 150 countries walked out of school to “demand an end to the age of fossil fuels,” following in the footsteps of Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who media outlets are calling the “face of the climate strike.”

Protesters gather at Bowdoin College Friday to advocate for climate action. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

The strike comes three days before the United Nations’ climate emergency summit, and according to the Global Climate Strike website, organizers are asked to repeat efforts Sept. 27. 

Carlos Campos, a Bowdoin student from Peru, told strikers that by being present they were “not only climate change activists, you are also human rights activists.” 

He was joined by students from Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and across the country, sharing stories of how climate change is impacting their lives and those of the people they love. 

“It is about protecting the right of current and future generations to live,” Campos said.

Sebastian de Lasa, whose family was affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, said the problems seen from that hurricane were nothing compared to the hurricanes tearing through the Carribean, and that without action there will be visible impacts on the poor and lower-class people in the Carribean and the American South. 

They must “fight for those who don’t have a voice,” he said. 

The impacts of climate change are not just relegated to the Amazon rainforest, the Caribbean and the South. 

The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of water in the world.

Betsy Sweet, campaigning for Senate, holds up a voter registration card. The best way to create change is to vote, she told the crowd. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

The Portland Press Herald reported last year that cod, northern shrimp and other species are experiencing long-term declines while other species, such as black sea bass and squid, are moving to New England waters that were previously too cold for them. 

Recent studies also suggest that lobster populations could shift 200 miles north as a result of climate change, and that the soft-shell clam industry could collapse due to green crabs, which are thriving in the warmer waters. 

A new climate bill, which Gov. Janet Mills signed into law in June, required Maine to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 and by at least 80% by 2050. The Maine Climate Council is tasked with creating solutions to and monitoring the effects of ocean acidification, warming ocean temperatures and changes in the salt and dissolved oxygen content of the gulf. 

U.S. Senate candidate Betsy Sweet proposed new legislation Friday which would end fossil fuel subsidies and put the money toward alternate clean energy production, hopefully bringing jobs to Maine and providing energy to Maine and the rest of New England. 

“We are the Saudi Arabia of clean energy,” she told the protesters at Bowdoin. 

“You are really the first generation that is dealing directly with the impacts of climate change, and you are the last generation that can do anything about reversing it,” she said. 

Sweet added that the most important thing is to vote for candidates who support a Green New Deal and who will encourage other legislators to “stop the nonsense, get smart and pay attention to science.” 

“We cannot bring a watering can when the world is on fire,” she said. “It is time for bold action.” 

[email protected] 

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: