EATON — A group of concerned citizens stood outside the Preble County Courthouse with hand-painted signs and a bullhorn on Friday afternoon, Sept. 20, as part of a worldwide call to action on climate change.
Millions of people globally took part in similar protests. According to USA Today, thousands of citizens demonstrated in cities such as San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Strikes and marches also took place in Berlin, London, and Melbourne, Australia.
The events were organized in part to draw attention to the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which kicked off on Monday. The summit, according to the official UN website, is intended to bring together world leaders from around the globe “with concrete, realistic plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.”
Friday’s Preble County demonstration was organized by Katelyn Buckler, who runs a locally-based Facebook group focusing on climate change awareness called “Always Greener.” Also present was Carla Blackmar, of Lakengren.
“So many farmers in this area are getting clobbered by climate change,” Blackmar said. “The weather is becoming more and more erratic, which makes it harder to grow things. That’s hard on a growing economy like ours.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere due to climate change can reduce the quality of alfalfa and soybean crops and hamper the ability of pastures to support grazing livestock, while increased temperatures and heavy precipitation can harm crops and reduce yields.
“We’re all neighbors in this agricultural region, and we’re facing these struggles together,” Blackmar said.
Buckler also spoke about the importance of raising awareness about climate change.
“There’s really no reason our world should be wasted and thrown away because some people want more money,” Buckler said. “The world is a gift to all of us, and it should be treated that way.”
Chantel Raghu, a veterinarian and city council member from Oxford, stressed the local effects of climate change.
“The ground’s too wet and they can’t raise their crops,” Raghu said of the region’s farmers. “It’s something that has a real local impact.”
There are many steps local government leaders can take to support the environment, Raghu said, including instituting composting and curbside recycling programs, taking a city-wide emissions inventory, or signing the Mayors’ Covenant for Climate Change, as Oxford community leaders have done.
“That’s something the city of Eaton could do as well,” Raghu said. “The city limits of Oxford are so small, and we are all so interconnected.”