With pithy signs and banners, St. Croix scientists and activists took to the streets Saturday, joining others around the world to commemorate Earth Day and advocate for action to counteract the damage being done to the planet and its vulnerable inhabitants.
Earth Day activities were held on St. Croix and St. Thomas Saturday and included litter pick up, as well as crafts, poster making and education for students.
On St. Croix, marchers paraded along the waterfront in Frederiksted, chanting “Earth Day is everyday, science is reality,” and waved signs bearing such slogans as “There is no planet B” and “Science is the Driver.”
After the march, people broke into groups and picked up trash along the beach or gathered near Fort Frederik for conversations about preserving the land and sea environments. Children played with dogs and flew kites while the adults networked.
Kyla Harris of the East End Marine Park, led people to a large pledge poster and encouraged them to write their intentions.
“The Earth is our mother. I pledge to keep a low impact and tread lightly,” wrote one activist.
Others pledged to reduce and recycle, keep the island clean, plant more fruits and vegetables, educate others and fight for evidence-based policies.
Celil Ekici of the University of the Virgin Islands STEM Institute, introduced himself to Harris and others. He said he wanted to forge mutual relationships with project support for environmental organizations such as EEMP, the St. Croix Environmental Association and the Virgin Islands Conservation Society. Ekici attended the march with his wife and two small children.
“I care about my family and I care about the planet and the environment. The kids enjoyed the activity,” Ekici said.
Sylvia Brady, SEA’s executive director, said the turnout was better than expected.
“It was important that we send the message,” she said.
Antonio Farchette, SEA board member and recent UVI graduate, organized the USVI Earth Day March and Celebration on St. Croix and St. Thomas in conjunction with the national Earth Day, the March for Science and People’s Climate March.
“I’ve always been passionate about the environment, especially the ocean, growing up on the island. With the change in the administration, it is important that the facts are not ignored,” he said.
Earth day has been celebrated since 1970. More than one billion people participate in activities to build “environmental democracy” in almost 200 countries.
This year, in addition to traditional Earth Day activities, thousands participated in the March for Science across the country and around the world. Much of the protest was in response to the Trump administration’s rejection of climate change and the threat to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Health Institutes funding.
“The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity,” quotes the website.
Sponsoring agencies included SEA, VICS, UVI, the Environmental Association of St. Thomas St. John (EAST), EPSCORE, VI Waste Management Authority, Coral World and Scoops & Brew.