The Hudson Valley is the site of at least two sister marches to the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. Saturday.
The Washington, D.C. march for climate, jobs and justice begins at 6 a.m. with a sunrise water ceremony and culminates with an after-party that gets under way at 10:30 p.m. There are sister marches and events taking place across the U.S. and abroad. One is planned in Hudson. Democratic New York state Assemblymember Didi Barrett is one of the speakers and will talk about what she views as preeminent issues for the region.
“That includes our river and the real impact of climate change on seasons and Lyme disease and the things that are so key to living here in our beautiful Hudson Valley,” Barrett says. “And the fact that Lyme disease and ticks… well the tick season has become much earlier and so the impact on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases is increasing because people are not prepared as early as they probably should be.”
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan also will speak at the Hudson event.
“It’s critical that even at a time when we’re not seeing the leadership we need from Washington that people throughout America, in New York state and the Hudson Valley are continuing their commitment to taking the steps necessary to address climate change,” Sullivan says. “This is already a real issue already in the Hudson Valley. We’re seeing sea level rise increasing in velocity. We’re seeing… the winter-time temperature in the Hudson Valley is comparable to what it was in Washington, D.C. 10 years ago.”
And, he says, we’re witnessing intense storms. Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson also will have representatives at the Climate March at Walkway Over the Hudson and in Washington. Again, Barrett.
“In the river, we’re obviously seeing an increase in the amount of gas and oil products that are being transported,” Barrett says. “That’s a huge risk to all of our communities and to the river that we’ve spent billions of dollars trying to clean up and ultimately to the economy of the whole Hudson Valley.”
Sullivan, too, does not want to see the Hudson River become what he calls a fossil fuel superhighway.
“Fortunately, in the Hudson Valley, we’ve got great leadership as we do at the state level. Governor [Andrew] Cuomo has made very strong commitments to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent and expand renewable power to account for 50 percent of electricity by the year 2030,” Sullivan says. “We have communities all over the Hudson Valley who are taking steps. Where I live in Red Hook, we’re pursuing community solar. We’re changing the lights to be more energy efficient. And many people in the community have solar on their homes.”
Tina Lieberman is education chair of the Sierra Club Hudson Mohawk Group, which is bringing people to Washington.
“So we’ve got four buses that we’ve organized leaving from Glens Falls and Schenectady, SUNY Albany, downtown Albany, then Catskill and Kingston. And we’ve got over 200 people that we’re bringing down to the march,” Lieberman says. “I think it’s important that we make a stand about climate change..”
And when the rallies and marches end, Barrett says the momentum should continue.
“In terms of a takeaway, I think that people need to stay vigilant. They need to not get distracted by a lot of the circus in Washington and continue to work to be sure that these issues are on the front burner for our federal representatives,” says Barrett. “And we at the state level will continue to do whatever we can to protect our environment.”
Sullivan says there are immediate steps to take.
“It is organizing and taking individual steps afterward that’s most important. It’s important to weigh in with your elected representatives that you want to see government at every level taking every possible step to address climate change,” Sullivan says. “We want to see individuals pursuing solar, carpooling, reducing their dependence on fossil fuel in every aspect of their lives.”
The Hudson rally kicks off at 11 with the march at noon. The People’s Climate March at Walkway Over the Hudson begins at 1. Other events in the Hudson Valley are scheduled in Monticello in Sullivan County, Port Jervis, in Orange County and White Plains, in Westchester County.