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Students walk out for change in climate policy

A group of mostly high school students stage a rally on the University of New Mexico campus after walking out of class to raise awareness of climate change on Friday. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“Climate change is not a lie. Do not let our planet die.”

That’s a chant that could be heard by those passing by the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Field around 1 p.m. Friday.

Repeating those words was a crowd of more than 100 mostly high school students who were skipping school.

They didn’t seem to worry about getting caught. They were proudly carrying signs that said “Climate Crisis,” “Stop Climate Change Before It’s Too Late,” “System Change, Not Climate Change,” and “Claim Our Rights.”

For them, walking out of class was a way of making their voices heard about the future of their planet. The demonstration was part of the “National School Strike for Climate Action” in which high school students throughout the U.S. and Canada walked out to urge action to halt the damage caused by climate change.

“I want to send a message to our senators, people who can vote and those in charge that we need to take action immediately,” said Aubrey McCullough, a freshman at Sandia High School.

She wants government officials to cut down on carbon emissions and switch to renewable resources.

“Obviously, it’s not something that will happen with an immediate change,” she said. “It’s not going to happen with one bill. We definitely need to start weaning ourselves off of it (fossil fuels).”

Eldorado High School junior Jared Sichler walked out to encourage more action and legislation “to save the planet for future generations.”

“We need to start using renewable energy more and start committing more money to it,” Sichler said. He agreed with McCulloch that America needed to start cutting back on its dependence on oil.

“Tesla’s doing a lot of things to make electric cars more affordable,” Sichler said.

Sandia High School junior Alyssa Ruiz was concerned about the damage continued dependence on oil would do to the environment and the economy.

She said didn’t want to live “in a world where climate change causes drought and food shortages.”

Ruiz said she would like to see climate change declared a national emergency.

Jennifer Patterson, also a junior at Sandia High, said she would like to see more policies cutting down air pollution by companies.

“I’d also like to see Styrofoam bans in Albuquerque,” she said.

Eldorado sophomore Mitchell Hahn voiced a concern that the Earth is being destroyed and pointed to the problems being caused by plastic products piling up in the oceans. He’s in favor of banning plastic products.

“That includes water bottles, straws and plastic utensils,” Hahn said, with the exception of use by some businesses.

He views the recent decision by the Albuquerque City Council to prohibit businesses from providing single-use plastic bags at the point of sale as a positive step.

“I believe we should be using reusable bags,” Sichler said.

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