The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 5th

Local environmentalists raise climate concerns in rally

The Raging Grannies, Solarize Chapel Hill and other local advocacy groups protest climate change at Peace and Justice Plaza on Sunday afternoon.
Buy Photos The Raging Grannies, Solarize Chapel Hill and other local advocacy groups protest climate change at Peace and Justice Plaza on Sunday afternoon.

CORRECTION: Due to a source error, a previous version of this story incorrectly identified one of the protesters. UNC freshman John Fleshman participated in the protest. Due to a reporting error, the same story mischaracterized Fleshman's opinions regarding the protest. He is advocating for social revolution, and he said many of the world's environmental issues are a result of technological and industrial intervention. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the errors.

The demonstration drew a diverse crowd — grannies, rabbis, pastors, vegans and students.

“We must care for the creation that sustains us,” said Kathy Shea, senior adviser for North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, a group that works with faith communities across the state on environmental issues.

The crowd wielded signs about a multitude of issues, including climate change, carbon pollution, fracking and solar power.

The groups were inspired by the upcoming United Nations Climate Summit 2014, which will begin Tuesday in New York City.

Representatives from various governments from around the world will gather to talk about developing goals for international sustainable development and spend the next year fine-tuning the goals.

A final draft will be presented at a UN conference in late 2015, said Richard Edens, pastor at United Church of Chapel Hill.

At Sunday’s Chapel Hill event, the Raging Grannies, a group of female activists who sing politicized song parodies at rallies, sung about fracking, war and other issues.

“No fracking, no way,” they sang to the tune of Home on the Range. “We say keep those frackers away.”

The Grannies were one of several groups that raised concerns about fracking.

Former state senator Ellie Kinnaird said while she agrees that fracking is detrimental to the environment, there are more serious environmental threats looming, like offshore drilling.

Representatives from Solarize Chapel Hill advocated for the use of solar power, which they said is an easy way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Kathy Kaufman, who spoke for Solarize Chapel Hill at the event, said that solar energy has become cheaper since 2008.

“You really can afford it,” she said.

Other protestors, like freshman information and library science major John Fleshman, advocated for more social revolution.

Fleshman founded an organization called UNC Freedom Club, which is still working to get approved by the University.

“We believe that there needs to be a radical change in social values,” he said.

Fleshman said many of the environmental issues the world is facing are a result of technological and industrial intervention in nature.

“Choosing to industrialize is one of the worst choices humans have ever made,” he said. “Climate change is wild nature fighting back.”

The Rev. Robert Campbell, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, was one of many speakers at the protest who said residents should hold their elected officials accountable for legislation that hurts the environment.

“We don’t need to continue to sell our state to the large utility companies,” he said.

Campbell said the Orange County landfill, which was located in the historically black and low-income Rogers Road neighborhood for 40 years, made the community face environmental issues because they were literally in people’s backyards.

“It helped Orange County to understand the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Campbell said the public needs to be further educated about being good stewards of the environment and taking responsibility for their consumption.

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