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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Battle over climate change heats up

By Maya Rajamani
Posted

In 2011, Riverdale resident Jennifer Scarlott was arrested on the White House lawn for protesting the Keystone Pipeline, along with 1,200 other demonstrators.  

But the arrest was hardly a stumbling block for Ms. Scarlott, who is now part of a growing group of activists in the northwest Bronx working to combat climate change. 

In Riverdale and Kingsbridge, Ms. Scarlott and fellow activists are gearing up for a climate change rally set for Sunday, Sept. 21. Participants in the People’s Climate March will start at 59th Street in Manhattan, march down Sixth Avenue to Times Square, and proceed across 42nd Street to 11th Avenue on the west side. 

Organizers predict the march will be the largest focusing on climate action to date. 

“We’re all united by our intense concern about climate change and the lack of action at any level,” said Ms. Scarlott, who has lived in the area for the past 15 years. “I’ve been involved in environmental activism since I was a child, basically. I’ve never seen anything like the widespread mobilization of concerned and widely diverse constituencies of people.”

Organizing the march itself began with a meeting of 250 people at Union Hall in Manhattan, followed by another meeting on July 1, which 500 people attended. At the second meeting, the gathering broke into groups by borough; Ms. Scarlott was able to speak with other activists from the Bronx, who made plans to mobilize in their respective neighborhoods. 

She found a home base at the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, whose board is unanimously in support of the march and has held two meetings for climate change activists. 

At the two meetings Ethical Culture has held so far, attendees voiced their concerns about climate change, often sharing personal stories describing what had spurred them to action. 

“They each have something very passionate to say about what drives them about climate change,” Ms. Scarlott said. 

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