Demonstrators rallied at the Ithaca Commons and marched to The Space at Greenstar for the Climate March in recognition of Earth Day, 29 April.

Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

Demonstrators rallied at the Ithaca Commons and marched to The Space at Greenstar for the Climate March in recognition of Earth Day, 29 April.

April 30, 2017

Cornellians Protest in Climate March in Ithaca and D.C.

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Hundreds of demonstrators demanded action on climate change from the Trump administration as they filled the Downtown Ithaca Commons Saturday morning in Ithaca’s Climate March in tandem with climate marches across the country.

Cornellians added their voices to the mix, both in Ithaca and in Washington, D.C.

The march, occurring one week after Earth Day, was held on Trump’s 100th day in office to protest “his attacks on our climate, our air, and our water,” according to the group’s page.

Chants of “This is what democracy looks like” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho climate change has got to go” rang out from demonstrators of all ages as they marched down the Ithaca Commons from the rally to The Space at GreenStar.

During those first 100 days, the Environmental Protection Agency has moved to roll back Obama-era regulations on fossil fuels, seeming to many that the Trump administration is prioritizing economic growth over environmental concerns, according to CNN.

Several protestors carried innovative signs to protest the administration's policies.

Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

Several protestors carried innovative signs to protest the administration’s policies.


The event began with a statement by Gay Nicholson, president of Sustainable Tompkins.

“We are here to fight grave injustices,” she said. “We can’t just leave it all to a few reps and activists … This problem is just too big. We need an immense movement that stays engaged.”

Nicholson was joined by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-125), who voiced her concerns for environmental action and past legislation — action that she said has not addressed the issues effectively.

“I was going to start by saying we need to stop meeting like this, but then I thought, no, we have to keep meeting like this,” she said, laughing.

“I think it’s important that we all get together, and see that we are not alone, we are all still very concerned, we are all still very energized, and we are all going to keep fighting together,” Lifton added.

Lifton discussed policy like New York’s ban on fracking, a process that produces enormous amounts of fugitive methane, an extremely powerful greenhouse gas, which Lifton said is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in a twenty-year window.

She argued that this policy does not go far enough, since fossil fuel emissions still contribute to environmental decay. For Lifton, this ban ultimately shifted the problem to other states rather than finding a permanent solution.

“When we allow major pipelines and other major infrastructure to be built in New York, we are de facto encouraging fracking in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and other states,” she said.

“We must switch off fossil fuels. We must bring down methane and bring it down quickly because that fugitive methane goes into the atmosphere that we all share, and it doesn’t respect state boundaries.”

While the speakers made such statements during the rally, Ithacans waved protest signs reading “There is no Planet B,” “Pro Green, Anti Orange,” and “Warming Warning!” in the crowd.

Lifton added that immediate action is required not only on the national level, but the local as well.

“There will be no businesses, no jobs on a dead planet,” Lifton said. “Mother nature is not negotiating with us on this. Action here at the local level is especially important today. This is not high-tech, this is simply stopping the harm.”

One demonstrator in the crowd, Mary Woodsen, a science writer for Cornell’s New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, said that she was protesting because “the new normal isn’t normal.”

“There are so many people living in areas directly affected by climate change, and I feel like we’re going to see climate refugees someday,” Woodsen said. “I don’t know if I’ll still be alive, but chances are I will, and it horrifies me.”

Hundreds of protestors flooded the Commons in solidarity with the Climate Marches taking place across the country.

Michael Suguitan / Sun Staff Photographer

Hundreds of protestors flooded the Commons in solidarity with Climate Marches taking place across the country.

Spirit of Protest Travels to Washington D.C.

While Ithacans flooded the Commons downtown, some Cornellians traveled to the nation’s capital to protest the Trump administration on its home turf.

Maya Chang Matunis ’20 described participating in the event as “invigorating.”

“I feel honored to have participated in the People’s Climate March in D.C. with my friends, fellow Cornell students, and hundreds of other Americans concerned about the future,” she said. “Marching on Saturday … made me feel powerful and useful, like part of a tide that, as so many signs at the march read, is steadily rising.”

Matunis said she observed that the ambiguity of climate change escalates when studied from an “ivory tower” — inspiring her to take to the streets of the nation’s capital.

“The issues are intertwined and tangled and messy, systemic and racialized, politicized and overwhelming,” she said. “However, it is more important than ever that we stay aware and alert, even when it seems difficult. It is more important than ever that we hold up the people around us, listen to and love them, and walk with them — metaphorically and physically — until we find solutions.”

Matija Jankovic ’20, who has been an active protester in Boston, agreed with Matunis’ sentiments, saying that he saw Saturday’s march as an opportunity to “contribute to political demonstrations in the spaces where they are most relevant.”

“Saturday’s march definitely stands out, in that it was actually taking place at the capital where so many of these environmentally destructive policies and initiatives are originating” he said. “I think it’s important that progressively-minded people maintain a political presence in public spaces, and even though events like Saturday’s march generally don’t result in immediate changes, they make the moods of the public visible.”

“Climate change is an incredibly important issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, so I’m glad that some of us from Cornell were able to make it down to D.C. to join the effort,” he added.

  • Joe S

    Ironic thing about this, and other protest marches like it that supposedly support the environment, is that at the end of the event, the areas look like a landfill vomited upon the site. . . . . it is like these “environmentalists” have never heard of picking up after themselves.

    • Mark S.

      You either provide evidence of stop making fake accusations. If you are referring to to the debunked fake news that the conservative media tried to sell to its audience, I suggest to update your information as it was shown to be a lie, and was created to provide people like you some ammunition. So there is no irony…only you, who is completely misinformed….

    • John Randall

      I was at the march in DC. I saw loaded trash and recycle receptacles. I did not see trash or recycle items strewn about. I carried my own trash back to my home in Maryland.

  • Will

    Many of the aging protesters are the same ones that fought against DDT (remember Joni Mitchel- the woman who deserted her own daughter). Guess what? Malaria made a comeback. Good job. Let’s see the new destruction you cause.

    • John Randall

      Joni Mitchell conceived a daughter with a man she met in Canada, her home country. He abandoned her when she was three months pregnant. She gave birth to a girl and put her up to adoption. The girl grew up with her adoptive family and eventually reunited with Mitchell. So it’s not as if Mitchell dumped the kid in a trash can or a field. I’m the adoptive father of a daughter who was also born out wedlock. My wife and I raised her in a loving home, as I’m sure Mitchell’s daughter’s adoptive parents did with her.

      On the DDT angle, Mitchell mentioned DDT once in one song.

      Concerns about the hazards of DDT use go back to the late 1940s. The EPA banned most uses of DDT in 1972. The ban had an exception for public health emergencies. DDT is still used in some parts of the world to combat malaria. Some mosquitos are resistant to it. Some of the pros and cons to it use are discussed at

  • Your Favorite Monday-Hating Orange Feline

    All these protesters should kill themselves: don’t they realize they pollute and consume natural resources with every breath they take?

    If they kill themselves, that would allow some poor African to have another child. Zero sum game people. Don’t be telling other people to have fewer children if you aren’t willing to off yourself and stop sucking up resources.

  • Your Favorite Monday-Hating Orange Feline

    The “Integrated Pest Management Program” should have been called in to disperse this motley assortment of “enlightened” and self-proclaimed “rational” vermin

  • Your Favorite Monday-Hating Orange Feline

    fugitive methane? Is that what these bernie-tards expel after gobbling down some tofu boca burgers and soy milk?

  • concerned alumnus

    The objection is not to fracking, which has been used for decades, but rather to the expanded use of natural gas as a fossil fuel. There is nothing wrong with fracking as a technique, if properly performed and properly regulated. It is a bit arrogant to take the position that New York State should not allow natural gas drilling and should instead consume a large amount of natural gas that is transported to NYS by long, expensive pipelines after being drilled in some other person’s back yard. Natural gas has many environmental advantages over coal. Indeed, Cornell shifted its heating plant from coal to natural gas because of the environmental advantages. At this time, natural gas is an important bridge fuel to get the United States to the point where renewable energy will be able to meet our energy needs.

  • Bill Nye

    Protesters: climate change is real, but gender is just a social construct!

  • A gender-fluid asexual attack helicopter who’s a vegan and also adopted 5 black children

    What a bunch of losers. If you care about climate change so much, kindly end your own lives. Your existence is causing massive release of CO2 folks!