Hundreds of Maine students leave schools to mobilize against climate change

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Hundreds of students of all ages gathered Friday at rallies around Maine as part of a global gathering to draw attention to climate change.

"It's our job," Phoebe MacDonald, 9, from Ocean Avenue Elementary School in Portland, told a crowd of nearly 600 gathered in front of Portland City Hall. "We can not wait for others to do it. … We all have the ability to make a difference if we work together and act. "

In addition to Portland, the organizers said rallies were held in Saco, Brunswick, Lewiston, Bar Harbor and just across the border in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. These have been organized in more than 1,300 similar events in nearly 120 countries around the world.

"We are here today because time is running out," said Anna Siegel, 12, a seventh grade student at the Friends School of Portland, who organized the event in Portland. "We are here today to take action and fight for the right to live on a healthy and stable land."

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Hundreds of students gather in front of Portland City Hall Friday afternoon as part of a global rally to draw attention to climate change. Ruth Metcalfe, a sophomore at Kennebunk High School (top right) addresses the crowd. "This is not a liberal or conservative problem, it is a problem that will affect everyone of us," Metcalfe said.

A number of students gathered for the event in Maine's largest city have called on lawmakers to support the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan promoted by US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., aiming to dramatically shift the country towards renewable energies and invest in technologies such as electric cars and environmentally friendly rail systems.

US Representative Chellie Pingree, Maine, was one of the very first proponents of the Green New Deal, which has been hailed as the best US proposal in the fight against climate change by many. environmental activists, but criticized by some of the members of the two main political parties. to be unrealistic and too expensive.

"It's not a Liberal or Conservative problem, it's a problem that will affect everyone," said Ruth Metcalfe, a sophomore at Kennebunk High School, in front of the crowd in Portland. "We must defend not only the children of our generation, but all generations who follow us."

Ryan O'Leary, a student at Scarborough High School, urged the Portland protesters to do their part by making small changes to their lifestyle, such as drinking with reusable metal straws instead of drinking straws. disposable plastic, as well as "voting with [their] dollars "by supporting companies that promote environmentally friendly practices.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Antonia Farago-Dumsch, 14, a Saco Middle School student, holds a sign in front of Portland City Hall Friday afternoon as part of a global gathering to draw attention to climate change.

In addition to the adoption of the Green New Deal, students taking part in climate strikes for youth called for the declaration of a national emergency on climate change, at the end of all the projects. infrastructure based on fossil fuels and compulsory education on climate change in primary and secondary schools. colleges, among other demands.

Federal scientists say the average temperature of the planet's surface has increased about 1,62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century and that sea level has increased about eight inches over the past 100 years, and is largely part attributable to man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Phoebe MacDonald, 9, from Ocean Avenue Elementary School in Portland, addresses 600 students gathered in front of Portland City Hall Friday afternoon as part of a global gathering to draw attention on climate change. "We can not wait for others to do it. … We can all make a difference if we work together and act, "said MacDonald.

Locally, researchers from the organization The friends of Casco Bay have found the waters off the coast southern Maine are averaging about 2.5 degrees warmer than 25 years ago, while the national oceanic and atmospheric administration reports that temperatures in Maine have risen by about 3 degrees since the early 1900s.

President Donald Trump has continued to raise skepticism about climate change among members of his conservative base, calling it a "hoax". Trump would have planned to assemble a panel of the White House to refute the more widely publicized science of climate change, a move that would be made after the president has already committed to removing the United States from the 2015 international agreement on climate change mitigation.