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Marchers in Northampton call for decisive international action on climate change



Last modified: Monday, November 30, 2015
NORTHAMPTON — Among the first to arrive at Sunday’s climate march, Beth Fairservis assembled her Mother Earth puppet, an 8-foot-tall, full-body puppet she made herself with a likeness of planet Earth in the middle of its forehead.

“She brings a lot of peace and, of course, love to the world,” Fairservis said as she prepared to don the outfit. “I’m carrying her on my back because I really believe that if we follow a path of loving kindness for Mother Earth, we’re all going to do really well.”

By the time the march began, she was the only puppet, but far from the only marcher. About 250 people set out from Northampton High School at 5:30 p.m. to arrive at Northampton City Hall at 6.

Other climate marches took place around the world, including one in Amherst, to speak out for a robust international climate deal to be negotiated at a United Nations conference on climate change in Paris, beginning Monday. (See related stories.)

Along the way, marchers chanted, “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now!” and “There is no ‘Planet B’” and sang songs.

Holding a circular web made of grapevines, twine and beads as well as a lantern, Deirdre Pulgram Arthen of Worthington said she was participating in the march in solidarity with activists in Paris.

“There is no more core relevant issue facing all of us than climate change right now,” she said.

Activists in Paris were stopped from marching because of recent terrorist attacks in the city, so participating in marches in other parts of the world is particularly important, she added.

Rosey Young of Buckland and Kate Loughlin of Northampton, both 12, carried glow sticks on the march.

“It’s our generation that is going to be ending up solving these problems, and our generation — my generation and Kate’s generation — they aren’t really involved enough,” Young said.

At City Hall, Mayor David Narkewicz greeted marchers and introduced the march’s organizer, Marty Nathan of Climate Action Now.

“We’re taking action at a local level, but we need them to take action at a global level,” Narkewicz said of the United Nations conference.

Nathan, a Northampton resident and physician in Springfield, thanked the dozens of organizations involved in the march and spoke about the climate talks in Paris.

“This is probably our last best chance to get such an agreement, a binding agreement that will mean worldwide cuts in carbon emissions,” she said. “

After she spoke, she invited marchers to the microphone for short impromptu speeches about what they hoped to protect with a prospective climate deal. Some spoke of protecting animals and plants; others sang songs about the environment; others took the opportunity to speak out for related causes, including stopping a natural gas pipeline proposed to be built in Massachusetts and divesting Smith College’s endowment of fossil fuel investments.

The speeches ended with a song, with lyrics, “The tide is rising and so are we. This is where we are called to be.”

As the crowd dispersed at the end of the hourlong demonstration, Nathan said the turnout was “terrific.”

“I was blown away, if you want to know the truth,” she said. “I think that people are worried and they know that it is time to act.”

She concluded by saying everyone should get involved.

“We are late in doing this, very late,” she said. “There is so much at stake.”

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@gazettenet.com.