Over 500 UC San Diego students, faculty, and community members met at the Silent Tree and marched through campus on September 27 to demand that UC leadership take greater action in addressing the ongoing climate crisis.
The UC San Diego community joined a growing climate strike movement in which millions of people from over 150 countries marched in solidarity demanding climate justice. Inspired by Swedish teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg, the movement began in 2018 as youth from around the world began organizing school strikes each Friday to protest the inaction of world leaders regarding climate change.
The march was hosted by the UCSD Green New Deal, a new grassroots organization dedicated to addressing the climate crisis and galvanizing support from the UCSD community. They demand that UCSD leadership and administration focus on climate education, meet carbon neutrality goals by 2025, and establish a UC-wide Green New Deal.
Several speakers were featured throughout the event, including student activists and faculty advocating for climate action and education. Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at Scripps Institute of Oceanography Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan highlighted the importance of climate education in empowering young people against the climate crisis.
“This will be the biggest battle we’ll be fighting,” said Dr. Ramanathan. “That’s why I’m calling you climate warriors.”
Yuval Baharav, a fourth-year Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience major who helped organize the march, said that the university should take action immediately rather than rely solely on students to bring about change.
“You have the responsibility to be changemakers, not just us. You asked for student input, and now here we are,” Baharav said, directly addressing the university. “Be the leaders you claim to be.”
UCSD came out with a press release in response to the march, highlighting actions the university has taken to address the climate crisis, such as signing the Climate Emergency Declaration. The declaration includes a commitment to carbon neutrality, action-oriented climate research, and sustainability education throughout all university programs.
Most recently, the UC system announced that it will completely divest its endowment and pension fund from fossil fuels by the end of September 2019. The divestment came two months after UC faculty submitted a memorial to the UC Board of Regents demanding fossil fuel divestment.
However, Baharav still believes that more drastic measures need to be taken by the university to truly combat climate change.
“These are incredible things; the divestment from fossil fuels is huge. We’re very proud that the university is [taking] these steps and we’re proud to be part of a system that is trying to make change,” Baharav told The Triton after the march. “But it’s not enough to just talk about it.”
Attendees at the march ranged from people hoping to raise awareness about the crisis to others who were profoundly afraid for the future.
“People act like this [the climate crisis] is somehow going to affect people in faraway lands. No, the whole world is going to be turned upside down in ten years,” said UCSD Computer Science and Engineering Professor Ranjit Jhala to The Triton during the rally. “I’m just horrified.”
Beginning on October 4, UCSD Green New Deal will start holding meetings every first Friday of the month from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Natural Sciences Building (NSB) Auditorium in order to get more students involved in an ongoing climate justice movement.
Julianna Domingo is a Contributing Writer for The Triton.