Hundreds of Buffalo voices were joined Saturday by an influential international voice during a rally to protest President Trump's stances on climate change and environmental protection.
Michael E. Mann, a Nobel Prize winner and climate scientist, was among the roughly 300 people who gathered in Niagara Square to decry Trump's reversal of long-standing federal policies that offer greater environmental protections.
"We now find ourselves at a crossroads," Mann told the crowd. "Never before have we experienced an assault on our planet like we are today."
"The current warming spike is unprecedented as far back as we can go," he added.
Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, was part of a group of researchers who shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. His study of historical climate data was the basis for the controversial “hockey stick” graph, which showed a sharp uptrend in temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere since 1900. He is the co-author of the 2016 book, “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet.
The Buffalo rally was held in conjunction with the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., and rallies in other cities.
Those in the crowd carried signs with slogans such as "The oceans are rising and so are we" and "There is no Planet B."
Their criticism was aimed at Trump, who wants to curb the federal government's enforcement of climate change regulations.
They also condemned Trump's budget proposal to cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has sought to curb algae blooms, invasive species and other water pollution problems in the freshwater lakes.
The Great Lakes program has played a key role in several local projects, including cleanup efforts along the Buffalo and Niagara rivers, where shorelines were also improved and wildlife habitat was restored.
The program also relocated Lockport families from a neighborhood contaminated by toxins, removed contaminated sediment from Scajaquada Creek in Buffalo and identified microplastics pollution in Lake Erie.
"Today we see this great resurgence on the Buffalo waterfront and in the river," said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, who has championed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as a program that helps clean the environment and spur the region's economic revival.