As Clarion went to press, the PSC Environmental Justice Committee convened a forum, “Organizing Urgency: The Climate Crisis and What CUNY Should Do About It.”
The PSC, along with other unions, participated in the 2014 protest against climate change in Manhattan. A similar march will take place in Washington, DC, on April 29, 2017.
Jim Perlstein, one of the organizers for the November 30 forum, said that the group wanted to have “more than a conversation” about climate change, but to also address specific ways that PSC members could get involved in environmental activism at their campuses and in their neighborhoods.
Perlstein said a lot can be done at the campus level, where a significant portion of non-transportation-related energy consumed by public institutions in the city comes from CUNY. The union invited panelists from groups working on environmental projects, including the labor and community group Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN) and the environmental justice group UPROSE, based in Sunset Park. ALIGN is working with the city to increase use of solar and other forms of renewable energy, and UPROSE tackles issues around waterfront development, “brownfields,” or vacant or underused properties, and air quality needs. PSC member Stephen Pekar, a professor of geology at Queens College, also spoke at the forum, describing how he has seen climate change in his own research on oceanographic changes in Antarctica.
John Hyland, a PSC retiree member on the committee, said the purpose of the forum is to “educate ourselves and plug into the environmental justice movement more effectively.” A next step for the committee is organizing locally and turning out union members for the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC, which will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2017. (For more information, go to peoplesclimate.org.)