Climate change is a hot topic on the Vineyard

Islandwide climate strikes and educational events inspired by global efforts.


Updated 5:20 pm

On Friday, Islanders of all ages took part in a global effort to bring awareness to climate change, and the devastating effects it will have on Martha’s Vineyard and the world.

Organized by young climate activists like Greta Thunberg, the global strike called for immediate action from policymakers and a systematic shift away from fossil fuels. 

But Islanders weren’t just raising their voices locally — many traveled to the mainland to take part in larger demonstrations.

Students from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) were striking in Boston alongside thousands of other activists, while West Tisbury School students from Plastic Free MV were making their voices heard in New York. 

At 9:30 am, a group of high school students could be heard outside MVRHS chanting, “Save the earth!”

Students held handmade posters that read “Stop denying our earth is dying,” and “The climate is changing. Why aren’t we?”

Science teacher Carrie Fyler said the students took their flex block time to protest and picket for swift climate action Friday.

“But all day long our science classes are striking for the climate, and teachers will be bringing students out here to peacefully demonstrate — to try and have our voices heard,” Fyler said.

Freshmen Hannah Murphy and Jocelyn Baliunas are part of the high school’s Protect Your Environment Club. They told The Times what Friday’s global climate strike meant to them. “It means I’m not afraid to show that I care about our planet,” Murphy said. 

“Showing everyone our generation is willing to make the commitment to save our world,” Baliunas added.

The two students offered quick advice for Islanders and anyone looking to make a difference: “Reduce your waste. Try shopping for more organic meats, or cut out meat entirely if you can,” Baliunas said. “Which is hard, but if you can, it helps.”

Murphy suggested walking more and using public transportation instead of driving your car.

Island churches also made their own contribution to the climate strike by ringing their bells for 11 minutes at 11 am, to symbolize the 11th hour of climate change, and the urgency of the situation. 

It was a quiet morning in Menemsha when organizer Elissa Turnbull and her kids arrived for the climate strike. Carrying a wicker basket full of flowers and an armful of hand-drawn signs, Turnbull made her way down to the dock and started to set up, waiting for the rest of the kids and parents of the Chilmark School to arrive. 

Soon after, organized chaos ensued. Kids got their faces painted with Earths and rainbows, and flowers and signs were passed out. Nearly all of the fourth and fifth grade classes of the Chilmark School, as well as parents, kids from the Charter School, and other supporters, came to the docks for the strike under a “Protect Our Oceans” theme. 

The flowers represent wishes for the ocean and world, Turnbull explained to The Times. As the group waited for the flotilla of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboarders to arrive, the kids tossed the flowers into the water, making their wishes. 

The flotilla, consisting of about a dozen rowers, launched from Red Beach in Aquinnah, and rowed against the current to Menemsha harbor. The group greeted them with cheers and then sang, “This Land Is Your Land.” 

Lisa Vanderhoop said she enjoyed the celebration, and thought people were very passionate and involved. For next year, Vanderhoop suggested voting pledges and pledges to live more sustainably.

“Maybe a pledge to give up Mylar balloons, or some information on resources here on the Vineyard,” Vanderhoop said. “And we need to encourage young people to vote whenever we can; that is what’s going to make a difference.”

She also said teaching people about recycling, composting, and other sustainable practices is essential to the movement. “It’s all about action,” Vanderhoop said.

Charter School student Runar Finn Robinson, 12, who goes by Finn, spoke to the group and explained the inspiration behind the worldwide climate strike: activist Greta Thunberg, 16, of Sweden. “Let’s grow this movement in the U.S.,” Finn said. “[Climate change] is the problem of this millennium, and it’s this generation’s problem to solve.” 

“[Greta] is very inspiring, I mean she came up with this whole movement,” Finn told The Times. “I think the school strike idea is a great thing because it’s a way students can actually do something and cause a disturbance.” Finn, who was wearing a Plastic Free MV T shirt, is also a part of the plastic free movement, which was started by students on the Island. “The greater goal is to continue the school strike to pressure the politicians like Rep. [Bill] Keating, who has been a little reluctant about it … but we’re lucky we’re in a state that is blue … we’ll continue until we accomplish those goals.” 

Noli Taylor, another parent and organizer of the climate strike events, told The Times, “I think it’s such a hopeful thing to see all these children in the next generation standing up and calling on us as adults to do all that we can to protect our future.” 

At Five Corners, a sizable demonstration of more than 50 people gathered with signs and banners saying “Take action on climate,” and “Our planet needs us to care.”

The demonstration was organized by We Stand Together and supported by the Island Climate Action Network.

Eva Raposa stood with her daughter at the edge of the sidewalk, and shouted at drivers to honk in support of the cause. She said climate change is an issue that affects every aspect of life in all corners of the world. “I am concerned about all the different little pieces that some people aren’t taking very seriously,” Raposa said.

Choices that we make in our everyday lives, Raposa said, are just as essential as taking part in protests. “Every way we can be involved is important. Once we start to think that way, I hope things will change,” Raposa said. “We need to do better.”

Kathy Laskowksi said she wants people to pay attention to the facts and keep their eyes open to the changes that can be felt in every locality as a result of climate change.

“People say, ‘Oh, climate change isn’t happening,’ but that is not a good mindset. You need to have a wider view, no matter where you live,” Laskowski said. 

Ben Robinson stood alongside his children at the strike. He said that although it is important to participate in large demonstrations off-Island like the one his family and he attended last year, there is just as much of a need to participate here at home. “Every locality sees the impact of climate change; it’s all over the planet,” Robinson said.

In response to those who deny that the climate is warming as a result of human impact, Robinson said “manufactured denial” is widespread and damaging to the progress of the climate advocacy movement. “There is no such thing as scientific denial. The facts are out there, but some people don’t care,” Robinson said.

At Island Grown Initiative’s Farm Hub at Thimble Farm, folks gathered in a circle and each shared one word of hope for the future of the planet. Some said cooperation, compassion, or education was their hope for the future, while others were more specific, wishing for clean air and water.

Kat Soni of Island Grown led the group in a song about being grateful for the gifts that our planet provides: “I am grateful to be, breathing, heart beating, and free. Even though hard times are all around me, I am grateful to be.”

After the song, people were given a tour of the farm, and all the aspects of regenerative agriculture that Island Grown represents.

Noli Taylor of IGI said she wants people to feel hopeful for the future after leaving the event, and look for ways to help the earth.

“These are real problems that we are facing, but there are real and incredible solutions to those problems. All we need to do is come together and have hope,” Taylor said.


Brittany Bowker and Gabrielle Mannino contributed to this report. 

Brittany Bowker and Gabrielle Mannino contributed to this report.


    • bs– if you really believe that, you should never take a child into a church. Most wars, after all have been fought over religious ideology.

    • Are you against teaching math, too? You know, relativity and quantum mechanics and gravity and stuff like that because it’s largely all theoretical, and some dopes might claim it’s a political agenda and not the study of ideas gleaned from the factual data of the physical world we inhabit. Trump supporters, particularly those who are stuck within the Dunning-Kruger effect, actually believe that studying scientific theory (and fact) is political. What incredible ignorance of what education is. You have to wonder why science and math upset the people who don’t understand it and don’t want it taught.

      • Provide me with one credible fact that humans are the source of climate change and I’m onboard with your mission. Unfortunately for you it does not exist.

        • Any teacher that teaches something that is not hard fact in the proper school books is not a legitimate teacher at all and should be fired immediately.

    • George– I object to your not posting my comment in reply to BS “Indoctrinating children to a political theory is a form of child abuse”
      my comment equating religious indoctrination of children to political indoctrination of children is , I think , a valid point.
      And really, ‘since when is the teaching of scientific consensus about the weather considered “political theory” ?

  1. I’m old enough to remember when kids were taught how to think, as opposed to being taught what to think. Public schools have no business indoctrinating political agendas and groupthink mentality. Educating children about the fact that millions of lives will be lost worldwide if climate hysteria succeeds in causing fossil fuel shortages is, sadly, obviously, not part of the current curriculum. There are two schools of thought… as always. I suggest the prudent one says stay the heck energy independent, and keep trucks rolling and planes flying. Oh, and buses too, especially for getting our precious juvenile activists in training to the cameras.

    • Yeah, I remember when children in public schools had to bow their heads to a Christian prayer ever single morning and also had Xmas jammed down their throats every December with Christian religious plays and music for an entire month. Talk about indoctrination and abuse of children. It was awful to grow up in that time and awful to always be an outsider. It’s no wonder to me that the very people who look back on those times as the good old days are the very same people who object to the science of climate change. It upsets their applecart of control when children today do indeed think for themselves.

    • There are indeed two schools of thought: One that is backed up by 99% of scientific evidence and the other is touted by corporate shills and the “useful idiots” (not calling you an idiot, that’s the appropriate term used… although it’s not entirely flattering I suppose) that parrot their propaganda as facts.

      That said, I agree with your sentiment that public schools should not support a particular political agenda. Fortunately, keeping our planet a place where humans can live is not a partisan issue to anyone who is not being paid by the fossil fuel industry. The evidence of climate change is irrefutable, and whether it is man-made or not (which again, the evidence STRONGLY suggests that it is) is actually fairly irrelevant. We need to do everything we can to maximize the best climate possible for humanity in the long term since despite what science fiction might tell us leaving this planet in large numbers is basically a non-starter.

        • Bs– here is the short story.
          The average temperature of the earth is rising.
          Do we agree that is true ?
          Humans pull oil out of the ground and burn it.
          Do we agree that is true ?
          When that oil is burned it releases carbon into the atmosphere.
          Do we agree that is true ?
          Humans can measure the concentration of that carbon.
          Do we agree that is true ?
          The carbon concentration in the atmosphere has been rising over the past 100 years
          Do we agree that is true ?
          Humans burn enough fossil fuel to release 37,000,000,000 tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, and the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere is directly proportional to this carbon release
          Do we agree that is true ?
          Humans can tell that there is a direct historical correlation between the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and the temperature of the planet.
          Do we agree that is true ?
          The sun fluctuates in intensity on an 11 year cycle
          Do we agree that is true ?
          The sun’s intensity also follows longer cycles and has been producing less heat over the last 100 years, and that trend should continue for the next few thousand years . — If you are confused as to how there can be shorter cycles within the longer cycles, consider the change of the seasons within the longer cooling and warming cycles that have been going on for millions of years.
          Do we agree that is true ?
          The earth is warming , and it is not because of the sun.
          Do we agree that is true ?
          Please give me some scientifically based facts that there is some other reason for the observed rise in earth’s temperature and we can agree on them also.

          • dondondon12, you want some science? Here it is.

            Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, and collects preferentially near the surface… not in the upper atmosphere where it might reflect radiated heat back down. In fact, CO2 is 38% heavier than air, so it’s not even a close call.

            This doesn’t prove or disprove anthropogenic global warming, but it does show that CO2 isn’t likely the cause of it, unless someone can explain how a heavier-than-air gas rises above the troposphere. Also, it shows just how gullible people are, and how many weren’t paying attention in science class.

            What suggests that AGW is horse manure, is that the same people screaming about it now, were screaming about global cooling in the 70s. I’d suggest reading up on an old story about a boy who cried wolf.

            Also, scientists (not science itself) have a long way to go to restoring their credibility, after telling us that carbs and sugars were good and fats were bad, and now we learn it’s the opposite.

    • I remember those days too, learned about facts not feelings. If I felt 2 + 2 = 3 I didn’t get a trophy and receive counseling for self esteem I got more homework. Today that is considered child abuse and these kids have no clue about reality. We are in hyperactivity where reality is not found in the class room but on comment pages and tweeter.

  2. old farmer– you think it better if children do not know the truth about the world they are going to inherit ?
    Wasting the worlds resources and causing the possible destruction of civilization is “prudent” ?
    I think you are confusing “prudent” with “reckless”.

  3. A sad juxtaposition in yesterdays Oregonian newspaper. Headline was that children with parents’ permission were allowed to skip class and protest the lack of progress on reducing climate change. Always eager to lead the kids toward social justice, the teachers no doubt have encouraged their absence. A few pages later an article shared that these young climate change geniuses at the grade school level can’t even achieve 45% competency in math and English. Perhaps the teachers are neglecting the three Rs to focus on other issues?

    • Geno– issue # 1 for teachers and parents is to teach their children how to survive and flourish as adults.
      your cherry picked example is disingenuous– Students also striked in many other countries, many of which blow American students out of the water in math and their native language.
      I sincerely doubt that the failing competency of American students has much to do with a day off to protect their future, and more to do with cutting funding for education to build a wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for to satisfy the whim of a maniacal dementia patient.

      • BS –no one says humans are solely responsible– just mostly. If you haven’t seen it already, I can’t help you with your condition.
        Can you point to any shred of evidence that they are not ?
        “The climate is always changing” is not evidence.

        • Yes it’s getting warmer. So what? Florida is warmer than Novosibirsk and we manage just fine. If it stays warmer we will adjust. Scaring the pants off 15 year olds who know very little is not responsible of parents.

          • andrew– I spent my first 8 years of education in a Catholic school. I have been in evangelical churches, and was married to an evangelical christian, as you know.
            if you want to know about indoctrinating and scaring the pants off 15 year olds, look at christian dogma.
            At the age of 7 or 8 , I was told that if I committed “sins” I would be condemned to hell for eternity– and the nuns spared no words about how bad it would be— for eternity. I have been in evangelical churches, where children are told that if they don’t accept jesus christ as their personal savior, they will be condemned for eternity to the same burning hell that the nuns spoke of.
            You talk about “indoctrination” and irresponsible parenting for the parents of people like Greta Thunberg to read and have critical thinking skills, while belonging to a religious cult that tells their children unimaginable horror stories that they will be forever dammed to unless they submit to the dogma of christianity. How can you post such hypocritical claptrap , and sleep at night ?
            I am sure Greta Thunberg would not not agree with you that she knows “very little” . She is smarter and more aware than you and I will ever be. Shame on you Andrew, for taking such a hypocritical low road. May god have mercy on your soul.

  4. Cynical adults exploiting young children for political purposes. And it’s not really about the environment anyway, it’s to implement the Green New Deal. Environmentalists have given up on the environment. Just look around the country— it’s getting dirtier all the time. The homelessness in the big cities run by democrats and the manifest filth is stunning. The liberals don’t care; they want power and they will use 15 year olds to get it.

    • Andrew— you sure can give a pretty good summary of what Hannity said last week. How about having some of your own opinions based on something factual ?

    • Cynical adults? It’s always so affecting to listen to evangelicals go on about the homeless (vets, mentally ill, drug and alcohol addicted) and manifest filth. Nice, Andrew. I bet Trump wishes he could articulate his lack of compassion as well as you.

      • Yes Jackie do you deny that many of our large cities are filthy and worse than say 20 years ago.? As for compassion, I carry my wounded but shoot my stragglers. How is that metaphor?

        • Terrible, actually, since it so unoriginal and stolen directly from the corporate world mind-set– kind of the opposite of what it means to think for oneself, as you claim elswhere. Besides, it does not fit into the nonsense about manifest filth. It’s also the antithesis of born-again-y-ism. But then again, I thought Christianity was about compassion for others. You, and indeed the entire “religious” right show me how wrong I was, over and over.

          • Jackie, I do not support pathological altruism. A compassion that attempts to support the welfare of others but in fact causes more harm. It results in permissiveness, enabling, disorder and crime. We are watching it daily in Seattle, Portland, LA, SFO and other large cities, before our very eyes. And just as the Great Society of LBJ engendered poverty, embedded welfare and entitlement and fatherless families creating an underclass; —- this go around will make these cities a magnate for opportunists to migrate to. No Jackie, I help the intractably poor but not the stragglers. You know very little about evangelical and born again and are in no position to define it. You know nothing about who I support and how much I support and my views of compassion. I now await your predictable antipathy.

        • I’d rather err on the side of “pathological altruism”, Andrew. We disagree but your version of Evangelical Christian-style compassion only for those who fall in line with the mind-set of privileged, male, white, Christian superiority have taught me a lot about why people like you support someone like Trump.

    • INFOWARS???? The rantings of the lunatic fringe, started by a deranged sociopath. This says it all about your opinions.

        • myob– the opinion pieces you post have no more credibility than the claptrap ( I love that word) that Andrew spews around here. I hope you are spending your retirement savings to help alex jones defend himself from the law suits resulting from his lies about Sandy Hook parents and the obscene deaths of their children – please, defend that deplorable pos. and send him all your money– well, maybe not all== i wouldn’t want to pay for your peanut butter and jelly sandwich when you become a ward of the state..
          And just for the record, I am quite happy that George Sorros is giving Greta millions of dollars to be a “child actor” — she deserves an Emmy–
          I have heard a number of conservative pundits talk about Gretta’s “mental illness” .
          Could you please explain to me what the connection is between fluoride and a teenager confronting the world’s leaders about climate change ?
          And perhaps explain to me what you think “mental illness” is, as I have some thoughts about that also.

    • myob– sorry, I am too busy to watch what i am sure is a wonderful and factual documentary from the most prodigious liar in modern history ( trump excluded, as he has executive privilege to lie, so he never lies by default) , as I am still spending all my free time trying to keep the feds from confiscating my guns, making sure that i never say “merry Christmas” to anyone, while i adhere to Sharia law –. if only Hussein Obama had not imposed all those horrors on us, i would have a little more time to watch this kind of claptrap– but you know, i have a job, and a family . Thanks for all the warnings about fluoride..
      Next time i am in Flint Michigan, I will load up on their fluoride free tap water .

  5. Dondondon. I am sorry that the nuns scared the pants off you with their religion. However the new religion of the left ——— Climate Change, also scares young people who think their world will end before they grow older. Do you see the similarities between your rant on Christianity and all you alarmists and their Swedish red guard mascot lecturing on our sins as deniers. Bit ironic don’t you think? It’s actually funny how you accuse me of evangelical cultism, when you and the one world order crowd use the cult of climate change in order to give government more power. I have no love for the thugs at the UN but a 15 year old lecturing them is laughable and they are on her side. “” how dare you”” she says as a learned post pubescent. You think we will all die in flames due to intransigence and we think you will go to hell for denial ( your words)

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