Tri-City area residents joined tens of thousands of people across the nation on Saturday, demanding and strategizing actions to protect the planet.
“There is no planet B,” Wanda Vantine, 11, of Kennewick, wrote on a banner stretched across the stage at John Dam Plaza in Richland, echoing words heard agross the nation Saturday.
“You can’t like go to another because … this planet gets like ruined,” she said.
About 75 people and several dogs attended the Peoples’ Climate Festival in Richland on the blustery spring day, making signs, listening to music and picking up tips to organize and fight climate change.
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A Species Climate March down George Washington Way was planned to end the day, just as tens of thousands of people had marched in Washington, D.C., to the White House earlier in the day. President Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax.
Rick Smith, associate professor of environmental science at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, said he has students, friends and colleagues who are discouraged by attacks on science and worry about climate change.
We have an understanding and acceptance of science in our community.
Rick Smith, associate professor at Columbia Basin College
But he sees reason for hope, he told those attending the festival.
When his class responded to an anonymous survey, 83.5 percent agreed that human activity was changing the climate, despite the conservative leanings of the Tri-Cities, he said.
“We have an understanding and acceptance of science in our community,” he said.
About 90 percent of the battle against climate change must be fought on a large scale, by businesses, by organizations like the United Nations and through policy change, he said.
“But we can find hope in our daily lives” to tackle the remaining 10 percent, he said.
He recommended trying a couple of the carbon footprint calculators that can be found using Google, he said.
You will discover that if everyone lives like you, the Earth’s population would need four or five planets, he said.
6.3 pounds weight of a gallon of gas
19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide produced by burning a gallon of gas
Then start thinking about changes you can make — drive less, walk more, ride a bike, take public transportation or carpool. Each time you replace a vehicle, get one that’s more efficient.
Every gallon of gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds, but when it burns it produced 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide, he said.
Flying is worse that driving, he said. The carbon dioxide share of one person on a plane from the Tri-Cities to Boston is more than if that person had driven alone, he said.
Turn off those little blue lights around your house — the lights that show your electronics are on — by using a power strip, he said. Each of those lights uses $7 to $9 a year in electricity, he said.
“Challenge yourself,” he said. “We can meet that 10 percent of personal responsibility.”
People wrote out promises to decorate a tree Saturday, committing to bike more, drink from reusable bottles and continue recycling.
Cigdem Capan, volunteering for the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, said that Washington is one of eight states most likely to pass a carbon tax.
Someone has to be first and it could be our state, she said.
Jessie Dye, program and outreach director for Earth Ministry in Seattle, called people of faith an untapped resource in the fight against climate change.
Pope Francis released a statement called an encyclical in 2015, “Care of Our Common Home,” that said the Earth is warming from pollution caused by fossil fuels, Dye pointed out. Caring for creation is central to the Catholic faith, the pope said.
There is a need for not just a voice of science, but “a moral voice, a religious message, a values message” to protect God’s creation, Dye said.
The Saturday festival and march followed a Celebration of Science and march a week ago, also at John Dam Plaza.