SUNY New Paltz students rally on Saturday to fight climate change
NEW PALTZ – As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy is marked,
students from the State University of New York in New Paltz, environmental
organizations and community members rallied Saturday to fight climate
They held up signs and marched from the SUNY New Paltz campus to the state
Department of Environmental Conservation regional office nearby.
The group heard from a number of speakers including students and faculty.
Nicholas Leone, a Long Island resident and junior at the college, said
the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy inspired him to join the fight against
“I experienced Hurricane Sandy firsthand,” he said. “Besides
losing power, which was minuscule compared to what everyone else lost,
I witnessed my friends losing their homes. I felt like I had no choice
but to get involved, because if you’re apathetic, you’re on
the side of the oppressor. These so-called ‘natural disasters' don’t
seem natural anymore.”
Since Superstorm Sandy, the Atlantic has been ravaged by several hurricanes,
namely the ones that hit the U.S. this year.
Matthew Nash, a student at SUNY New Paltz who organized this event and
is currently interning for the New York Public Interest Research Group,
released a statement on how the issue of climate change is becoming increasingly
“More Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall than ever this year,”
he said. “The impact of the climate changing is becoming more apparent,
and the time to take action is now.”
Brian Obach, a sociology professor and director of Environmental Studies
at SUNY New Paltz, concurred and placed blame on the Trump administration.
“It almost seems absurd that we have to come together to demand
that this issue be addressed,” he said. “The science is in;
the debate is clearly over now. We have seen what is happening, yet our
leaders deny that it is happening.”
State leaders appear to be taking action when the federal government is
not. Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has introduced bills geared towards alleviating
the effects of climate change in New York, which his Legislative Director
and Counsel Laurie Wheelock noted.
“In New York State, we should be proud of everything we are trying
to do, especially with everything going on in the federal level,”
she said. “Assemblyman Cahill used to be the chair of the energy
committee and he continues to work hard on environmental legislation.”
Around the world, people are suffering from the same effects of climate
change as those in New York. Aumma Begum, a SUNY New Paltz student from
Bangladesh, expressed her concerns over how her home country will subsist
amidst the heavy rainfall it receives each year.
“I am really traumatized of its future because things are worse
now than it was when I was back home,” she said in a news release.
“It floods many times every year now and people often lose their
crops due to it. We have all the proof that we need to say that this is
today’s issue and something must be done.”
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