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Nearly 300 people attended the Youth Climate Strike on Oregon State University’s Memorial Union Quad Friday afternoon.

The event was put on by the Sunrise Movement Corvallis chapter with just a week’s planning, organizers said at the event, which included speeches by students attending OSU and Corvallis High School. The event concluded with a march.

John Stepanek, a member of the Corvallis Sunrise Movement chapter, encouraged the attendees to contact their representatives to support a Green New Deal, carbon taxes redistributed to people affected by climate change, and a ban on new fossil fuel development. He also encouraged attendees to support the Juliana v. United States lawsuit, which concerns climate change.

“As young people, as youth, as students, we have the power to do something,” said Stepanek, an OSU graduate student in integrated biology.

Cheyanne Rico, an OSU student who organized the event, said the purpose of holding the rally at midday was to send a message that action is needed now, not when it is convenient.

She said that given the tight time frame in which the event was put together, the number of people to attend was beyond the organizers’ expectations.

Nathan Vega, a Corvallis High School junior, spoke at the event, reading quotes from activist Greta Thunberg.

“If solutions are so impossible in the current system, maybe it is time to change the system,” he read. “Change is coming whether you like it or not. Real power is coming to the people.”

Bill Ripple, a professor of ecology at OSU who co-wrote a warning about global climate change that has been signed onto by more than 20,000 scientists, also spoke at the event.

“This is so important,” he said. “Climate change is going to bring about unfathomable change and we need to do something about it.”

Ripple said more events like the Youth Climate Strike are needed.

“The adults are not doing enough. We need to get students of all ages activated,” he said.

He said everyone needed to join the effort and encouraged the crowd to chant “all hands on deck.”

“There is no time to waste. We are at a hinge point,” he said.

The Corvallis event was timed to coincide with similar climate strikes around the world. 

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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