by Sierra Petro
Purchase students marched into Representative Nita Lowey's White Plains office this past Tuesday to demand that the Democratic congresswoman support the Green New Deal proposed by Bronx and Queens Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Leo Frampton, a member of the Green Team, an environmental advocacy club at Purchase, rallied the group of eight other students outside the office. He stressed the importance of getting the congresswoman's support for the Green New Deal, which aims to prevent an impending climate catastrophe.
“We have 12 years to completely turn around our system of production and our use of energy before the effects of climate change are completely irreversible," said Frampton, a senior environmental studies major. "We’re still going to be living with climate change, but maybe we won’t go extinct as a species."
Green Team president Matt Garafalo, a senior environmental science major, only planned the event a few days prior before holding a meeting the night before. “This is my first time spearheading an event like this as president," said Garafalo. He usually takes the group outside to do events, but he was excited when he heard of the Sunrise Movement’s rally.
The Sunrise Movement is a group of young people rallying to stop climate change. Last Tuesday, activists of the movement stormed the office of Nancy Pelosi in support of a Green New Deal. Many students and activists have been calling on their local officials to take action since then.
Green Team members were ready on Tuesday to share with Lowey why a Green New Deal was urgent.
“Green New Deal! Green New Deal,” was chanted through the office until the activists were met by Lowey’s District Director Pat Keegan, who shook hands with everyone. She then listened to an opening statement by Frampton. Lowey was not in her office.
“We are here for a very specific reason, which is to ask the congresswoman to agree to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution to have a select committee for the purpose of drafting a Green New Deal, which would be a legislation that could decarbonize America in 10 years,”said Frampton.
Frampton then started off the letters that were drafted at a meeting the night before. “Climate catastrophe is more of a threat to American lives than the axis was in World War II, so help us match the urgency. We want to live lives as long as the generation before us. This is the only way. Support the select committee. This thing can be written and ready by 2020,” said Frampton.
Garafalo followed with another letter for the congresswoman. “The science is undisputed, yet little to nothing is being done to prevent what is likely to be the greatest struggle in human history. America claims to be a world leader and example-setter for other countries to follow, yet we sit idly by while climate change continues to get worse and worse,” said Garafalo.
“My future depends on people like you making the right choices for ourselves and our environment,” said Batya Nightingale, a senior environmental science major.
“For too long climate catastrophe has been out of the control of the individual civilian’s choice and largely an obligation, vastly and unequally so, of those in power, those with the ability to eliminate fossil fuels from our industrial economy,” said David J. Peterman, a senior.
Morgan Bredwood-Green, a junior economics major, spoke on the California wildfires.“It was the deadliest and most destructive inferno the state has ever faced, 77 dead and thousands more unaccounted for. The reverse of climate change is no-longer feasible, but the survival of Americans’ lives still is,” said Bredwood-Green.
Keegan responded on behalf of the congresswoman. “I know she would applaud your passion and advocacy. It takes people like you to effect change,” said Keegan. She followed by saying she would deliver the notes to the congresswoman and get back to the group within the next few weeks.
“It’s great to see so many young people getting involved," Keegan said.
Garafalo responded that a record number of young people came out to vote in the recent midterm elections. “We voted all these representatives into office, and we’re here to tell them what we want,” said Garafalo.
“Green New Deal! Green New Deal,” was heard throughout the office once again, and this time students had some more strength behind that saying. Frampton spoke to the team outside of the office and said he would follow up with the congresswoman in a week-and-a-half.