Students among thousands at climate march


The Appalachian Online

Laney Ruckstuhl

Thousands of people will converge on Central Park West in New York City between 65th Street and 86th Street at 11:30 a.m. Sunday as they begin the People’s Climate March through the city’s streets.

The People’s Climate March is an event responding to the expected 2014 United Nations Summit on Sept. 23, which will take place in the city and discuss the global climate crisis. Two buses of students from the Boone area will embark Saturday on a two-day trip to participate in this lobbying alongside people from hundreds of different countries.

The two buses scheduled to depart are expected to hold roughly 100 students, approximately 10 from Caldwell Community College and 90 from Appalachian State University. The cost per student is $50.

Harvard Ayers, professor emeritus of anthropology, said the group has succeeded in offsetting the students’ costs by raising funding from the People’s Climate March, the Sierra Club, the Blumenthal Foundation in Charlotte and individual donors.

Ayers said he visited multiple classrooms around campus to recruit students for the trip. As the senior editor of multiple books regarding air pollution and fossil fuel development, Ayers explained that global climate change has become a prominent issue to him personally.

“As a social and a physical/biological scientist, I have become a staunch part of the strong consensus of about 98 percent of the physical and biological scientific communities that now accepts climate change as settled science,” Ayers said.

Ayers said he is currently co-authoring a book with bus captain and fellow NYC trip-organizer Dave Harman. The book, titled “Train Wreck Earth,” is expected to cover the impending effects of climate alteration if humanity does not take charge of their impact on the environment.

“Those 98 percent of scientists, including me, believe that climate change, if allowed to progress — witness much worse storms, floods, drought and resultant wildfires — will destroy the Earth and the life on it over a fairly short period of time,” Ayers said.

Katelynn Mudgett, a sustainable development major at Appalachian planning to attend the march, said she is excited that the trip accommodated her as a student, acknowledging that she would return to campus just before her classes would resume.

“With all that taken care of, I could just be excited and ready to show my passion for sustainability and justice as an SD major,” Mudgett said.
Michael Aguero, a junior sustainable development major attending the trip, said the event holds weight, not only in the grand scheme, but to the United States and students everywhere.

“With the UN involvement, it happening here on our soil; that’s a big thing,” Aguero said.

According to, the march is expected to include over 1,400 partnering organizations in addition to the thousands of people gathering from across the globe. The peaceful march will likely become the largest climate event to occur globally.

Aguero said it is not only important due to size and location, but because it is an attempt at awareness and attention to a practical issue.

“It’s more unified because we’re not thinking about peoples’ money, – though that is important – we’re thinking about our children’s future, the Earth’s future and how we can make it right again,” he said.

While building community worldwide, Ayers expects the trip will inspire a global and local perspective in the students choosing to attend.

“These students will soon be joining the Town of Boone and Carbon Free Boone, a local non-profit, in working to make Boone and Appalachian a model of solar energy application and conservation of building energy,” Ayers said.

The students will be working as interns, volunteers and advocates for urging Appalachian’s administrators to dedicate themselves to using solar panels, Ayers said.

“By installing solar and helping residents and others make their homes and businesses more energy efficient, our project will significantly reduce the area’s need for so much electricity from dirty fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — all of which are major contributors to destructive climate change,” Ayers said.

Story: Taelor Candiloro, Intern News Reporter