The crowd walked around Gulf Coast State College carrying signs, part of global strikes centering on climate change.
PANAMA CITY — Activists called for action on climate change Friday during a demonstration in Panama City as part of global strikes centered on the issue.
Activists walked around the Gulf Coast State College campus holding signs saying “Your planet needs you” and other slogans. Cars driving by honked as the crowd stood on the sidewalk along U.S. Highway 98 near the Hathaway Bridge. The event drew people of all ages and students played a role in the global strikes.
Bay High student Mac Chapman came out to raise awareness and said solar energy and electric cars are solutions.
“It’s a real thing we have to worry about,” Chapman said.
Trista Hudson, 14, said her grandpa took her and two friends to the march. Hudson and her friends are part of the Mosley Environmental Club and she urged people to take action.
"People need to be aware about the crisis," Hudson said.
Leslie Kolovich said she believes climate change played a role in Hurricane Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base more than 11 months ago. Affected communities in the Florida Panhandle are recovering from the devastation.
“That hurricane just popped up faster than any other hurricane ever did and went from a (category) 2 to a 5 in, like, 24 hours, it seems,” Kolovich said.
Climate science experts and meteorologists have varying perspectives on if they believe climate change played a role in the storm. Some say it’s hard to say if climate change caused Hurricane Michael, while others are adamant it did. Those who say climate change played a role in the hurricane cite warm ocean waters around the time of the storm.
Kolovich’s concerns about climate change are that “we’re not ready” and she wants leaders to take action and people to change to deal with changing conditions.
“We still continue to build and live and do everything that we used to do, even when we’re having these drastic changes in climate and weather,” Kolovich said. “There’s flooding that’s causing our coastal areas to get wiped out.”
Bob Allenson came from Holmes County to show solidarity. Solutions he proposed include getting away from fossil fuels and going to renewable forms of energy.
“I want a Green New Deal. I want to live in Elizabeth Warren’s America,” Allenson said. On his reaction to the crowd, “I wish we were 100 times this size but I’m glad we’ve all come out.”
Vaughan Greene attended the demonstration because “climate change is real” and she believes in science. She wants America to join the Paris Agreement, stick with “traditional allies,” work on carbon emissions and not pull back regulations.
“Climate change is warming the oceans. Because of that, our storms are getting worse,” Greene said. “Our sea levels are rising. We’re having massive weather events that are going to become more and more common.”
Demonstrations also occurred in Australia, Germany and Washington, D.C.