Casper Students Rally for Climate Change Action
The organizer of a small rally called the "Wyoming Youth Climate Strike" in Washington Park on Friday believes in the immediacy of climate change awareness, but knows the importance of living in a state built on the fossil fuel industry.
"Climate change is an issue that affects everybody," Natrona County High School junior Maille Gray said Friday.
"It affects you no matter where you are, to a certain extent; it affects you depending on your age," Gray said.
"It's a global issue, it's not just affecting Wyoming or just affecting the United States," she said. "It's affecting people in China, it's affecting people in Africa."
Gray heard about the Climate Strike nationwide movement in March and became the Wyoming coordinator for the event Friday, which coincided with similar events elsewhere.
The platform of the movement includes the "Green New Deal" -- roundly denounced by many Wyoming politicians and residents -- grounded in science to declare a national emergency and demands 100% renewable energy by 2030, and an investment in green technology and developments.
The platform also acknowledges the impacts on the energy sector, and so does Gray.
She knows she lives in the "Oil City" and the leading coal producing state in the nation, and the economic impact on the thousands of Wyomingites who work in those industries.
"I don't feel we should end people's jobs," Gray said. "That's not right."
She favors a transition to more renewable energy sources and -- something that may not sit well with some environmentalists but win favor among the Wyoming minerals industry -- nuclear energy.
"Nuclear energy opens a lot of doors," Gray said.
One participant in the rally, retired electrical engineer Dan Cooper, urged people to support the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act to create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies to reduce pollution and leave a healthier, more stable, and more prosperous nation for future generations.
Cooper was among the majority of participants at the rally of about 30 people who were not students. Gray said most of the students were from Kelly Walsh High School.
The Natrona County School District said students who participated in the event would be marked as absent according to its attendance policy if they did not have an excused absence notices from parents, and Gray's mother gave her one, she said. She also made plans to make up assignments with teachers.
"I just wanted to make sure that I was doing this in the best way that I possibly could," Gray said.
This is the summary of the platform of the Youth Climate Strike:
"We, the youth of America, are striking because the science says we have just a few years to transform our energy system, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent the worst effects of climate change. We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis. We are striking because marginalized communities across our nation —especially communities of color, disabled communities, and low- income communities— are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We are striking because if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change. With our futures at stake, we call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We are striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure. Additionally, we believe the climate crisis should be declared a national emergency because we are running out of time."