‘Not a debate’: Rock Hill High student leads demonstration for action on climate change

Holding signs that read “Honor Thy Mother,” “There is no Planet B,” and “I speak for the trees. Strike for climate change,” Rock Hill students gathered at Fountain Park Friday to send a message to state leaders.

Rock Hill High School senior Sarah-Isabel Poindexter-Ibarra, 17, organized the demonstration. She missed a class Friday to act on her passion, carrying a sign that read “school strike for climate change.”

“Climate change is real. This is not a debate anymore, you have to listen to the science,” Poindexter-Ibarra said. “In the near future, if we don’t do anything to change the path we’re in right now, humanity will never be the same.”

Poindexter-Ibarra was joined by Winthrop University students and community members. About 20 people marched with her to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s downtown Rock Hill office to sign a petition calling for action on climate change.

“It’s important that we as young people and people of all ages join and hold our leaders accountable and let them know this is a priority for us,” Poindexter-Ibarra said. “If we don’t do anything to solve it, the future of our humanity is going to be in grave danger.”

One of the signs had a photo of the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants and read “are you feeling the acid now Mr. Krabs?”

The sign protests increasing acidity levels in ocean waters. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, increased acidity in ocean water is due to higher carbon dioxide levels related to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Higher acidity levels can make it difficult for some marine organisms to build their skeletons and shells, according to the EPA.

Several residents driving by honked their horn in solidarity with the marchers.

Rock Hill resident Whitney Hardin, 35, joined the students to show her support.

“We’re at a point where we have to stop treating this as if it’s just this hysteria around this climate crisis,” Hardin said. “The youth is ready for us to make these changes. I’m out here standing with them because I believe in them.”

Hardin carried a sign that read “People’s health over corporation’s wealth.”

Hardin said she wants to raise awareness of water and air pollution and the need for clean land.

“Ultimately these corporations are sitting back making the profits and our health is struggling from it. Environmental health correlates directly with our personal health,” she said. “This is a public human health crisis and it’s time to get serious. It’s time to make these companies do things responsibly.”

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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