More than 100 people braved a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon in Kansas City to march for the world’s future.
Calling for immediate action to stem what they call the crisis of climate change, they marched on the Country Club Plaza ,chanting: “Turn off fossil fuels. Turn on clean energy.”
The Kansas City event was one of about 2,000 held over the weekend in cities around the globe ahead of the United Nations climate conference that kicks off Monday in Paris.
“Climate change is the crisis of our time,” said Craig Wolfe, communications director of the Kansas Sierra Club. “People in government have to do something about it.”
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Brent Ragsdale of Tonganoxie, Kan., was one of those who braved Sunday’s raw conditions.
It was the first time Ragsdale could recall taking part in any kind of protest.
“I’ve done a lot of reading on climate change and I’m really concerned,” he said. “It’s a complicated issue, but there are things that collectively we can do.”
Beth DaSilva of Prairie Village, the mother of three children, is concerned about the kind of world they will live in.
“I want to see a future for all generations,” she said.
Christine Polo, an environmental engineer from Panama who now lives in Kansas City, said she is especially concerned about the effects of climate change on people living in Third World countries.
The pattern of more severe droughts and flooding could have a devastating impact on their food and water security, she said.
“Solving climate change is important,” Polo said. “If we don’t do something now, it will affect all future generations.”
Dave Mitchell, one of the organizers of Sunday’s event in Kansas City, said that scientists predict that without dramatic action to cut the use of fossil fuels, there is a risk of runaway global warming.
That’s the red line where scientists say it will be too late to undo the damage, he said.
“There needs to be a transformation in the way humanity gets and uses energy,” he said. “Job one is to reduce fossil fuel use.”
The goal of many in the environmental movement is to see a 100 percent renewable energy economy by 2050.
Sunday’s march was organized by the Kansas City Climate Coalition, and John Kurman of the coalition said that while an agreement on cutting fossil fuel use is expected from the Paris conference, many feel it will not be as strong as it needs to be.
Part of the idea behind this weekend’s events is to call on negotiators to take stronger action, he said.