Over 100 people took to the icy streets of Newtown Monday night to protest President-elect Donald Trump’s choices for key cabinet positions in the areas of energy and the environment.
The rally was organized by local groups including the newly-founded Bucks County Environmental Coalition and 350 Bucks County, the local chapter of 350.org, a global grassroots environmental organization.
Specifically, those gathered wanted to call on U.S. sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey to vote against Trump’s appointments of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state; Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator; U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke for the Department of Interior; and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Department of Energy.
The activists dubbed these choices “climate change deniers,” and fear that the appointments could lead the United States toward energy and environmental policies that do not acknowledge the science behind climate change.
The march down State Street in Newtown was preceded by a lecture from Donald Brown, a Widener University professor in sustainability ethics and law.
“This is such an amazing failure of the United States,” Brown said to a crowded room at the Newtown Friends Meetinghouse. “Skepticism in science is a good thing, but what they’ve been doing is not skepticism … They’ve been falsifying science.”
Brown has joined discussions on climate change at the international level, working as a program manager for the United Nations Organizations at the EPA’s Office of International Environmental Policy and representing the EPA in U.S. delegations to the United Nations negotiating climate change.
Much of his lecture focused on the push to make the world carbon-neutral by 2045 to 2050. That, according to research, could prevent global temperatures from rising between 1.5 and 2 celsius, believed by climate scientists to be the magic number in preventing potentially catastrophic shifts in the current climate.
A change that severe could bring more frequent, more intense storms, wildfires, droughts and other changes, according to Brown.
To accomplish the carbon-neutral goal, Brown said, the United States needs to act immediately.
“We not only have to get out of coal,” Brown said. “We have to get out of natural gas.”
Brown also focused on the Paris Agreement, a collective agreement signed by 196 nations in 2016 with the expressed goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate change.
During his campaign, Trump has threatened to withdraw from the agreement, but has since loosened up on that threat..
Still, in Newtown and the 60 other places across the nation where climate change rallies were held on Monday night, the issue was with his cabinet appointees and apparent lack of concern for climate change and affiliation with the oil and natural gas industries.
Tillerson, for example, was chairman and chief executive officer for ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016.
“The science is about as dead-on as you can get,” said Dave Meiser a Pipersville resident and analytical scientist in the pharmaceutical industry. “In the science community, when something becomes obvious, it does not get put in the paper anymore. It’s just like me saying smoking causes cancer — carbon dioxide causes climate change.”
Meiser is a member of the Bucks County Environmental Coalition and helped organize the rally with other local activists.
After the the lecture, protesters marched to on State Street to the corner of E. Centre Ave. where they held signs reading “Deniers are liars,” “Save our planet,” and “No climate change denier cabinet.”
“Our movement is growing,” said Jasmine Spence, co-leader of 350 Bucks County. “We don’t want to be divisive. We want unity in the common goal of bringing attention to climate change.”