Climate March Protesters Decry Trump Rollbacks

Sag Harbor rally was one of hundreds across the United States
Kiana Dias was among the younger set of South Fork residents joining in a march and rally for action on climate change in Sag Harbor on Saturday. Durell Godfrey

Some 250 people marched along Sag Harbor’s Main Street and held a rally at Long Wharf on Saturday as part of a national campaign to draw attention to climate change and urge lawmakers to act to mitigate its predicted impact.

Under sunny skies, the event brought together a cross-section of South Fork residents, from scientists and conservationists to celebrities to regular folk concerned about sea level rise and more frequent and extreme weather events, among the other effects of a warming climate. The march and rally were among hundreds held across the country, including one in Washington, D.C., where tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets and surrounded the White House in protest against President Donald Trump’s rollback of environmental regulations.

Throughout the event, word spread that the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s website had just been stripped of much of its content relating to climate change. “On every level, our environment is threatened, including the fact that they are erasing the information on climate change to try to convince people that it doesn’t exist,” Christie Brinkley, the model and author, told The Star. “I’m here first and foremost as a mother because I feel that our children, all children’s future, is really in grave danger right now. I think that we all have a responsibility to be informed and to speak out.”

John Andrews, a scientist who has lived in Sag Harbor since 1969, spoke at Long Wharf, where demonstrators had gathered after the march. Mr. Andrews asked the assembled to learn about Citizens Climate Lobby, which advocates for a phased-in imposition of a fee on fossil fuels that would be rebated in full to households. The nonpartisan group, to which he belongs, “has the best solution,” he told the crowd, “which is to price carbon, make people who use fossil fuels pay the necessary price, and return all that money to the people in equal shares, so that those of us who conserve will come out ahead. People who are poorer and lower on the economic scale will be better off simply because they don’t have the money to spend on energy, but they’ll get the same rebate that Bill Gates gets.”

Both President Trump and Congressman Lee Zeldin, who represents New York’s First Congressional District, were criticized in statements and on picket signs. Last year Mr. Zeldin joined the climate lobby’s bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. “Some of my friends say it was a political stunt,” Mr. Andrews said yesterday, “but I like to believe it was more than that.” Mr. Andrews was part of a delegation that called on Mr. Zeldin in November.

He said he hoped the congressman would become a co-sponsor of the Republican Climate Resolution, introduced by 18 members of Congress, which “invokes the conservative principle ‘to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment, responsibly plan for all market factors, and base our policy decisions in science and quantifiable facts on the ground,’ ” according to the Citizens Climate Lobby website.

The group’s nonpartisan strategy, Mr. Andrews told the demonstrators, “is essential if we’re going to go beyond feeling good and actually get something done, because nothing is going to happen unless there’s a critical mass of conservatives as well as progressives who are willing to stand up for action.”

Jill Rappaport, a journalist, author, and animal activist who lives in Water Mill, came to the demonstration out of concern for all beings, she said, including her six rescue dogs — “my ‘fur children,’ ” she told The Star. “It’s very scary to think what the world’s going to be like 10 years from now,” she said. “We just want to know that there’s going to be a future for all of us. Everybody has to do their part: Speak up and really make sure we are doing our job to protect our environment. There’s power in numbers, and when people step out, that’s when we see change.”

Kevin McAllister, founder of the advocacy group Defend H2O and the former Peconic Baykeeper, was at the front of the march. He later told the crowd about the bulkheads, revetments, and other hard structures that will keep rising seas at bay but “will inevitably destroy our public spaces, our recreational use, and certainly have a negative impact on our economy. I really urge you to play close attention to this,” he said. “Let’s not have four years go by” in which policy is driven by “private interests that are more about protecting their property.”

Other speakers implored the assembled to contact New York’s senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. “They need to hear from us too,” one speaker said. “The people who care about our health, we can win. We don’t have the money on our side, but we have what’s right on our side. By banding together, we can do this, we can protect our planet . . . we can save ourselves.”

Ms. Brinkley picked up on that theme. “Why?” she asked of the deleted data on the E.P.A.’s website. “So that a few rich corporations can continue to make even more money? . . . Roll back the regulations? Those regulations are there to protect Republicans, Democrats, this generation, future generations. We can’t ignore that.”

Jill Rappaport and Christie Brinkley were among the South Fork residents who attended a march and rally for action on climate change in Sag Harbor on Saturday. Durell Godfrey
Durell Godfrey