By BEN WESTCOTT
Hundreds rallied in Saranac Lake for climate action on Friday, led by youth activists who left school as part of the Global Climate Strike.
“We need more action and less talk. That is why we are here, and that is what we demand,” 15-year-old Astrid Livesey said in front of about 400 climate strikers congregated at Riverside Park Friday afternoon.
Livesey was joined by many of her fellow Saranac Lake High School students, who marched from school to the event. The strike was part of a worldwide movement. Students from other local schools rode buses to the park, and adults of all ages joined in solidarity with teenagers working to continue the #FridaysForFuture movement started by the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
Representatives from the Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program, the Lake Placid Green Team and the Sunrise Movement also attended.
“We are in a climate emergency, and we have to do everything we can to make people realize that,” said John Cohen, an 81-year-old retired carpenter and resident of Raquette Lake who has participated in many protests and marches against climate change. “Every time we do something like this, more people become bolder, learn more, and they’re willing to do more.”
Diane Peterson, a retired elementary school teacher and resident of Lake Clear, spoke of the need for a sense of urgency. “The climate is already affecting us all. There is no excuse for some of the things we are doing,” she said.
Other activists shared her desire for prompt action. “We have already seen the effects. We should not wait until we are completely devastated to finally go, ‘Oh, maybe we should do something about this,” said North Country Community College student Schuyler Cranker.
Much of the blame for the climate crisis was pinned on the fossil fuel industry. “If we would have just stopped subsidizing fossil fuels and used that money to speed up the adoption of renewables, we would have solved this problem 10 years ago,” Livesey said. “This has to stop, and the only way we can stop it is with our votes.”
An unaffiliated organization worked to register voters at the strike.
Paul Smith’s College professor Curt Stager, accompanied by his banjo, sang a version of Lil Nas X’s hit song Old Town Road, giving it a decidedly activist bent. Stager changed the popular verse to a rhyme imploring people to go public with their opinions about climate change, singing, “I’m gonna take my voice to the Old Town Road, I’m gonna fight till I can’t no more.”
Nathalie Thill, director of the Adirondack Center for Writing, pledged support to the young activists. “We are going to need all of your talents,” she said. “And this time, you will be supported. I think I speak for all of the adults here and across the world when I say that this time, we will stand with the youth.”