On the eve of Earth Day, a group of about 50 people gathered in front of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s City Union in chilly weather to raise awareness of climate change.
Members of Embrace Nebraska, along with other climate-change awareness groups, marched from the Union to the Nebraska State Capitol for the Climate Strike, where multiple speakers called the
group to action against climate change legislation.
Kat Woerner, the primary organizer for the strike, said the strike’s specific goal was to inspire the community to take action to mitigate the climate crisis.
“We have to do our part here in Nebraska,” Woerner said. “People need to do their part within their own communities, whether that’s at their work, whether it’s in their classes, whether it’s in their programs, whatever they’re doing.”
Members of the strike had five demands: implement a state climate action plan, transition to regenerative agriculture, harness renewable energy, prioritize public transportation and protect water resources.
As they marched towards the Union, the group, a mix of college students and community members, chanted, “We are unstoppable. Another world is possible.”
Most participants of the strike carried signs, some of which read “There are no jobs on a dead planet,” “Planet over profit,” and “Hot people recycle.” One sign which said “Honk 4 Earth” prompted many passing cars to do just that.
Woerner spent the last year traveling across Europe, where she attended climate strikes in France, Germany and Egypt. She attended COP27, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference with over 35,000 participants.
As a UNL alumnus, she said she wanted to bring that back home.
“That’s so many climate activists all over the world working on this, and there’s so many people in Nebraska doing it as well,” Woerner said.
Once the group reached the Capitol stairs, multiple speakers addressed the group.
Carmela Rigatuso, a freshman at the University of Nebraska-
Lincoln, spoke on the Capitol steps about the importance of stories, which she said only exist within the confines of nature.
As an Indigenous person, Rigatuso said stories of nature and the world were taught to her from an early age. She pointed to governing bodies, who she said are destroying the country’s natural resources for money, destroying the stories that live within the land.
“When the U.S. runs out of resources within its own country, it begins to take more indigenous land,” Rigatuso said. “We as Native people know how to respect our Earth and appreciate all that she gives us, something the U.S. government isn’t very well versed in.”
During another speech, Will Green, a UNL student, joked that he learned everything he needed to know from Dr. Seuss. Green said that Seuss’s “The Lorax” helped him understand just how vital environmental protection is.
Some Nebraska politicians, he said, have not understood The Lorax’s message.
Green called out Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska’s third congressional district and Sen. Deb Fischer, both of whom have spoken out against environmental regulation.
When politicians focus purely on environmental efforts from an economic standpoint, he said, legitimate problems within the world go unnoticed and worsen.
“The moral of the story is that the planet is dying and that there’ll be no market to analyze because we’re depleting our natural resources,” Green said.
A high school freshman then performed a poem he wrote titled ‘Through the Crack.”
In it, he described the contrast between nature and the industrial world built by humans, which hinders the former in the poem. In his poem, all seems hopeless for nature except for one flower, blooming through concrete.
“Alas, all seems hopeless, but for one, one crack shining through the concrete, hiding between buildings, embedded in iron,” He said. “Here is a flower blooming upward, reaching for the sky.”
Outside of this industrial world, he described areas that exist only in nature, ecosystems that he said man’s creations, like the Burj Khalifa can not compare with. To keep these natural places alive, he ended the poem with this:
“With nature, treasure it,” he said. “Nourish it. Protect it, or it will soon be gone.”