Climate activists in Montana don’t want to waste any more time. They want to see their politicians do something about the danger of climate change, and their voices are getting louder.
A crowd came out to show their support of helping to stop climate change at the Montanans for Climate Solutions rally in Missoula on Saturday. The hour-long event drew more than 150 people to the plaza near the Northern Pacific Depot building downtown.
Organizers of the rally said it was designed to send a message to state and national elected officials that it is no longer enough to simply talk about climate change, but that people want to see substantive action to reduce carbon pollution and do what can be done to reverse climate change.
A series of speakers took the stage at the start of the rally, including Nobel laureate and University of Montana professor Steve Running and George Price, a Native American Studies and African American Studies program professor and organizer for Indian People’s Action.
Price spoke about the impact oil drilling and other fossil fuel extraction has had on Native American lands. He also said it was time to start going beyond what he called the Band-Aid approach of trying to combat each small problem; the focus should be “attacking the disease at its heart.”
Specifically, Price said it was important to help support the people who are working on alternative energy solutions and other methods to combat climate change. With more support, their work could be developed more quickly and better and most important, become affordable for the average person to be able to use.
“Electric cars for example, are still prohibitively expensive. Who can afford a Prius?” he said.
The rally was one of 13 being held in towns and cities across the state on Saturday. After the speakers, Sarah Moody, a member of Blue Skies Campaign, called on the crowd gathered at the rally to send in messages on Twitter to Gov. Steve Bullock to let him know they don’t want to see more coal and oil extraction in Montana. Missoula bluegrass band The Lil’ Smokies then took the stage to play a short concert for the crowd of activists.
Nick Engelfried, cofounder of Blue Skies Campaign, one of the groups that was part of the rally, said his group has a few central missions, including pressuring Montana lawmakers to reject the proposed Otter Creek coal mine.
“That decision will be up to the state, and we want officials to know where we stand on it,” he said.