Environmental Activists Work to Increase Awareness, Gather at Town Square to Fight Climate Change

Environmental Activists Express Awareness, Need for Action

Fayetteville resident Holli Johnson participates in the NWA Climate Strike. Photo by Abby Zimmardi

By Abby Zimmardi
The Razorback Reporter

Fayetteville environmental activists lent their voices to global climate strikes and demonstrations about how waste reduction and education can help the planet. Activists also expressed an array of views, from anti-capitalism to use of hemp, as possible counters to climate change.

Their concern, activists said, is for the future of the planet and some think that education is needed to change humans’ impact on the environment.

Taylor Gladwin, Washington County Environmental Affairs Department environmental educator, teaches waste reduction, whether it is through composting, recycling or reusing, she said. Gladwin wants people to know that everything has an effect, good or bad.

“My big thing is I like people to know that everything is connected,” Gladwin said. “Everything has an equal and opposite reaction and everyone lives downstream from somebody.”

An example of “everyone lives downstream from somebody” is the pollution from factories that goes into local waterways, Gladwin said. That negatively impacts communities in the surrounding areas because they are left with toxic water and the pollution kills the fish. The community did not do anything wrong, but they are the ones who suffer as well as the animals that rely on the water and fish to survive.

UA senior Alex Danek, an environmental activist, thinks that capitalism is a cause of climate change, and said people should look to fight an economic system that is increases the temperature of the earth. Large corporations emit pollutants from producing products and generate billions of dollars, Danek said.

“At the end of the day its not a personal thing,” Danek said. “No matter how many short showers you take, or how many people decide to order a veggie burger instead of a hamburger, at the end of the day it’s capitalism that is driving climate change.

“It’s not anything that any one individual person can change on their own,” Danek said.

Industries and companies under capitalism should have addressed the issue of climate change a long time ago but have only had an interest in making money, Bianka Rios, UofA senior said.

CBD American Shaman and Kava Bar owners Loudy Bousman and Ranaga Farbiarz were among the participants in the NWA Climate Strike in downtown Fayetteville. Photo by Abby Zimmardi

“They’ve let it get to this point, like how dare they get to this point?” Rios said.

Younger generations have voiced that they are fearful of growing up in a world that continues to ignore climate change, Rios said.

“I’ve heard so many younger generations be like ‘I’m scared of growing up because what if I can’t breathe?’” Rios said.

Fayetteville resident Holli Johnson thinks that people can make small changes to help the planet, she said. Johnson is vegan and believes that living a vegan lifestyle is good for the body and good for the planet.

Vegans do not eat animal products and they do not wear or use products made from animals, as well as not going to places such as the circus or zoo, Johnson said. They value conservation over captivity and treat being vegan as a lifestyle and not a diet.

“There are things you can do to make a difference,” Johnson said. “I know corporations can make changes as far as emitting horrible pollutants into the environment and depleting the ozone.”

Loudy Bousman and Ranaga Farbiarz believe that the solution to climate change is hemp, Farbiarz said. Bousman and Farbiarz own the CBD American Shaman and Kava Bar in Fayetteville.

“Everything would be running on hemp now if it had been out, what 80 years ago,” Farbiarz said. “So now that we’ve settled or legalized the production of hemp, this is just the beginning of a turn around.”

Industrial hemp does not require the use of pesticides, which can harm the environment. It stops the growth of weeds, improves soil health and creates a high amount of energy for biogas (versatile energy used for electricity, vehicle and jet fuel and can replace natural gas) and solid fuels, such as coal, according to a Biomass and Bioenergy article from the Science Direct website.

Hemp has multiple industrial uses including fuel, medicine, fiber and more, Farbiarz said. It is a renewable fuel and commodity.

The four-hour strike took place at noon, Sept. 27, at the Fayetteville Town Square. Billy Cook, the UA Young Democrats vice president, helped organize the climate strike with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology, he said.

“My personal hope is that it will be a call to action for young people, especially since we’re the ones who will face the brunt of the climate crisis,” Cook said.

The climate strike was a space where people could come together and share their different reasons for fighting climate change, Johnson said.

Gladwin hopes that the climate strike will inspire at least one person and that the fight against climate change grows, she said.

“I’m an air breather so this is a very important issue to me,” Gladwin said.

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Abby Zimmardi is a junior at the University of Arkansas majoring in journalism with afocus in news/editorial. Zimmardi is a news reporter for the Arkansas Traveler and has gained experience in photojournalism through her study abroad in Bolivia. Zimmardi is covering stories about the environment in the 2019 Digital Media Lab.