For those who do not know me my name is Phoebe Fisher, and I am a junior. I’m also the leader of the Sustainability Club. I was asked to come up here and share with you a speech about Mother Earth and Earth Day. I struggled with this topic for some time. Should I come up here and talk about all the beautiful things about nature and the environment? Or should I be the bearer of bad news, and talk about the nightmarish crisis we are in. I decided that these two ideas could be intertwined. They must be intertwined because how can you talk about the environment without talking about its sheer beauty and how much it provides for us. But with that, we can not overlook the crisis it and we face, as we are a part of the environment and nature. So this is my attempt at sharing both sides of Earth Day. Today I want to talk about Peter Kalmus and the events of April 6th. For some of you, Peter Kalmus may be a familiar name, for others, this may be an introduction.
Peter Kalmus is a NASA climate scientist who has been screaming into the void for some decades now about the climate. Or that is how he describes his efforts in trying to warn society of climate change and persuade change itself. Sick and tired of being ignored, Kalmus organized a protest.
On April 6th, only 23 days ago, one thousand scientists from twenty-six countries faced possible arrest in order to protest through means of civil disobedience. Peter Kalmus and three other scientists – Greg Spooner, a physicist; Eric Gill, an engineer; and Allan Chornack, a wildlife biologist – chained themselves to the JP Morgan Chase bank building. Why JP Morgan Chase Bank? Because Chase Bank is the largest fossil fuel funder in the world, putting over 382 billion dollars into fossil fuel funding. Other activists soon arrived, and a crowd of supporters followed and cheered the protest on. There, Peter Kalmus spoke. In front of strangers and the media, he wept for his sons and their endangered future. There he spoke of his frustrations of being ignored for decades. He spoke of how politicians are so far gone in big businesses' pockets that nothing enough is being done. He pleaded for and demanded change. Dr. Kalmus talked of how the facts are not up for debate. And there is no more room for politicizing the climate crisis. Then another scientist chimed in stating:
We are tired of being ignored
We tried being unbiased
We tried being silent
We have tried the policy game
We have tried celebrities
We have tried everything
He screamed the last word into the crowd. After some hours of being chained to the entrance doors. The police arrived. Not a small squad to deal with four peaceful protesters, but about 50 police officers dressed in full riot gear came to protect the bank.
The officers then declared the protest an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to disperse. The police demanded the scientist leave voluntarily, to give up. They refused. And so Greg Spooner, Eric Gill, Allan Chornack, and Peter Kalmus were arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing.
Here at Holderness, we get the opportunity to see what exactly Dr. Kalmus is fighting for. For my fellow juniors, who recently survived OB, we were immersed in it. I know sometimes it did not feel so beautiful. It felt relentless, like raining on the first night, or raining even harder, and being extremely windy on the second night of solo. But isn't that the beauty of it? What that harsh rain does for the ecosystem. You look around and you can see the moss growing, and hear the trickle of the streams under the ice. You can hike 4 miles and see the clearing of the trees reveal a beautiful mountain range, with Mount Washington in the distance. Simply put, there is so much to protect and so much at risk.
So now I ask you to be conscious. I ask you to be conscious of your actions and their greater impact. Because that is the first step. I ask that tomorrow you see how much single-use plastic you go through. That you notice how many cars pass by campus emitting pollutants into the air. That ultimately you take into account your impact on the environment and the world bigger than you.
It is easy to feel helpless and alone when facing up against a seemingly unstoppable crisis. However, in that the power lies, in understanding, you are one of many and therefore you must do your part.