NEWBURYPORT — About 200 people, many hoisting homemade signs and cheering as passing cars honked in support, turned out Friday in Market Square in a “Climate Strike” rally aligned with Global Youth Action demonstrations around the world.
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist who has drawn international attention by staging weekly protests outside the Swedish Parliament to government action on climate change, provided inspiration for the rallies around the globe..
About 60 students from the River Valley Charter School were among scores of other students and adults who created a big stir at Newburyport’s protest, holding signs out at passing motorists on Water Street and chanting “Climate change is not a lie, please don’t let our planet die!”
Middle school director Colin Vandenburg said eighth-grader David Seaton inspired his classmates to join the climate strike Friday and his school had opted to cancel some classes to allow the students to protest.
Seventh-graders Josiah Lowell and Addy Malone joined eighth-graders Tessa Porter and Helen Coughlin doing their part holding signs for the environment Friday.
“Having renewable energy for Newburyport is something that is doable for our town,” Coughlin said. “It makes a huge impact but at the same time, it is not completely irrational. It’s possible.”
Porter held up a homemade sign which read “Change is Now!”
“If you want to help the world, you have to change stuff now, right at the brink of when everything is going terribly,” Porter said. “We have to start changing now. Then, over time, we will get better and better at changing stuff. We have to start changing it before we are at the point where everybody starts dying.”
Lowell held a sign depicting a melting planet Earth wearing sunglasses.
“We have to change before things really go south and we have no time to fix them,” Lowell said. “So, taking little steps in your daily routine helps.”
Malone said she made a sign reading “It’s Getting Hot in Here!” because she has noticed the effects of climate change herself.
“I will come to school in the fall and will have to wear shorts, when it is really supposed to be like 60, or 50 degrees,” Malone said. “I remember last Christmas, I was wearing flip-flops. I just don’t think that is right and I think that we really need to take action to fix this problem.”
City Council President Barry Connell was also at Friday’s climate strike and said he was impressed by the students.
“These kids took time out of their day when they could have been out, goofing around on a beautiful day,” Connell said.
“But, instead they made a choice to come to Market Square and express an opinion on something that is very important to them and to all of us. We ought to pay attention to them. They are not missing the point that climate change is an existential threat to us. If we don’t do something significant about it soon, we run the risk of spoiling this entire planet.”
Amesbury resident Priscilla Jones joined a group of her fellow Quakers from the Amesbury Friends Meeting House in demonstrating on Friday.
“I’m concerned about the changes in our climate and especially the future for our children and grandchildren,” Jones said. “I believe in science. It’s as simple as that.”
Kat Couree brought her 1-year-old granddaughter Aria to the rally with a sign reading “My Future Depends on You” adorning the girl’s stroller
“It’s her future, it’s her Earth,” Couree said. “I’m her grandmother and I want her to have a clean planet.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.