Over 2,000 people came out to the streets of downtown Chicago on Saturday to join the 2017 People’s Climate March, a nationwide movement that aimed to protest President Trump’s climate policies.
Protesters with increasingly soggy signs and dripping ink gathered to listen to speakers and slowly marched towards the Trump Tower in the bitter spring winds and steady rain, halting just on the other side of the river. The march, which took place on April 29th (or President Trump’s 100th day in office) sought to call out the president on his seemingly anti-environmental executive actions, including cutting the EPA budget and granting approval for the new Keystone XL pipeline. Many of the signs at the event targeted the new president, calling him an “orange handed baby” and targeting the idea of “fake news” or “alternative facts.”
The protest was one of an estimated 370 climate-related events taking place across the US, the Chicago Tribune reports. Signs and speeches covered environmental issues ranging from contaminated water sources to high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the need for renewable energy source development. Many of the protesters felt a sense of urgency to participate in these events in light of the Trump administration’s recent initiatives to put fossil fuel development above environmental protection.
“Without government reform, we’re not going to accomplish anything,” said protestor Sharon Gussie, who came to the march with her two sisters. “I think that big politics is literally destroying this country.”
While the sisters discussed their concern for rising global temperatures, ocean acidification and increased deforestation, their main issue was how big business was interfering in governmental matters.
“They’re working for us. They’re supposed to do what we want, not what they want. They’re controlled by the 1 percent,” said Gussie’s sister, Peggy Strand.
A large concern for many scientists and environmentalists is how the big oil industry could be playing a role in the Trump administration’s agenda. The administration’s decisions come at a pivotal time for the planet, as global temperatures continue to rise and carbon dioxide concentrations passed the 400 parts per million threshold just last year.
In recent news, President Trump signed an executive order on April 26 that called for the Department of the Interior to review of “all Presidential designations or expansions [of national parks] of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996.” This could mean that large national parks, like Bears Ears in Utah, could be opened up to the government and developed for their land, water and fossil fuel resources. Redefining boundaries or shutting the parks down altogether would not only restrict the public’s access to the national lands, but also would promote destructive mining and oil refinery industries.
“Every day is like a trainwreck, and if something doesn’t happen soon I think everyone is going to be truly sorry,” Gussie said.