Saying no to climate silence

By Alishia Alther

SOME 200 students and activists turned out for a "Colleges Against Climate Silence" rally on December 1 in Amherst, Mass. Attendees came from the Five Colleges community and beyond.

The rally began with talks by some of the student organizers of the event, an organizer with Students for a Just and Stable Future and former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. After the talks, the crowd circled the Amherst center green, held hands and "broke the climate silence" with some chanting. A speak-out concluded the rally, where community members, local organizers and students from the Five Colleges community spoke.

The number of attendees is an indication that the climate justice movement is gaining momentum in Amherst and, as Jill Stein noted, around the country as well. During the speak-out, students and community members made radical connections between capitalism, climate change and environmental degradation, as well as other injustices caused by capitalism like racism, poverty and poor health. Many pointed out that capitalism seeks to profit from fossil fuel production without any regard to people's health or the wellbeing of the environment.

During the speak-out, proposals were made about how to build a movement that can stop climate change. Collective action was seen by many as the way to initiate change. Five Colleges students are planning campaigns to force their schools to divest from companies profiting from dirty energy production. Local organizers from Climate Action Now are working to shut down the Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and build a movement against the government's plan to make the Pioneer Valley a hydraulic fracking site.

The climate justice movement in the Amherst area is beginning to re-emerge and has the potential to gain momentum. Many of those who attended the rally are tired of the silence around climate change from the Obama administration, understand that capitalism is the root of the problem and are ready to fight and act collectively against climate change.