Fort Worth

Fort Worth protesters join worldwide call to save the planet from climate change

This story has been updated to corrected Cael MacFarlane’s name.

Transitioning to renewable energy is about more than saving Earth from climate change, said Mark Peters. It’s also about saving money.

The Hurst man installed solar panels on his home in 2013 and bought two Tesla electric cars shortly after. The up front cost was high, he said, about $8,000 for the panels plus the costs of new Teslas, but he’s already seen savings. At the Global Climate Strike march in downtown Fort Worth, Peters passed out copies of his MP2Energy bill that showed he paid $5.61 this month, but in other months paid nothing or had credit on his bill.

“Economically it’s a no brainier,” he said.

Peters was one of more than a hundred people who marched around Fort Worth City Hall throughout the day Friday calling for greater action to combat climate change.

John MacFarlane, who organized the march as the chairman of the Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club, said protesters had two goals: bring awareness to the dangers of climate change and call on local leaders to adopt more robust climate policies.

Specifically, MacFarlane urged the city to receive all of its energy from renewable sources by installing solar panels and wind turbines on government property and contracting with green energy providers. He also called on the city to transition its fleet to electric or hybrid vehicles to cut emissions.

MacFarlane said he was driven by his two children. His son, Cael, 10, joined him for the march.

“I want them to be able to grow up and have children and grandchildren and be able to live on viable planet,” he said.

Just before noon MacFarlane estimated 120 had joined the march, but he expected more to come and go until 4 p.m. The group at City Hall included students, professionals and retirees. They carried signs and chanted while marching around the block, eliciting honks from supporters driving by.

The march is part of the Global Climate Strike, which saw hundreds of thousands of protesters take to the streets across the world. Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg largely organized the worldwide effort

Tatum Curtis, 21, said she was excited to see the number of young people who joined the Fort Worth march. She made the trip from Dallas to protest, with a focus on protecting land that belongs to indigenous people. Agriculture and logging in Brazil threatens Amazon tribes, and development has also threatened land sacred to native people in the United States, she said, pointing to conflicts in Hawaii. On the Big Island, an 18-story telescope planned on the top of a dormant volcano drew protests from native Hawaiians because the volcano is considered sacred, according to USA Today.

Curtis traces her heritage to the Rarámuri, a tribe from Chihuahua , Mexico, through her mother’s side and to the Ottawa on her father’s side. Beyond advocating for indigenous people, she said individuals can do more to live sustainable lifestyles, like planting gardens, recycling and composting.

“It’s easy to make these changes,” she said.

Cities are particularly susceptible to climate-related issues.

Heat Islands are possibly the most notable in the summer time. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8 to 5.4 degrees warmer than rural areas. In the evening the difference can be as high as 22 degrees.

Urban areas are also affected by wetter conditions. A University of Maryland and Texas A&M University study found that a growing number of extreme rainfall events combined with extensive suburban development that worsens flooding have increased urban flooding.

Fort Worth has adopted a number of initiatives aimed at curbing emissions and waste. Among them:

A goal to reduce electricity consumption by at least 5% per year through 2021.

Nearly 50% of city government buildings, and the largest of its 11.8 million square feet in facilities, have undergone energy- and water-efficiency improvements over the last decade.

Energy recovery efforts at the Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility cut the carbon footprint by an estimated 58,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The city is finalizing a draft of the Environmental Master Plan, similar to ones adopted or in the works in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

The city’s streetlight maintenance program replaces streetlight fixtures with LEDs. More than 3,400 residential streetlights have already been converted to LED.

In 2012, the city joined the Better Buildings Challenge under the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. With city encouragement, the local partnership had reduced energy use by 16%.

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Luke Ranker covers the intersection of people and government focused on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He came to Texas from the plains of Kansas, where he wrote about a lot, including government, crime and courts in Topeka. He survived a single winter in Pennsylvania as a breaking news reporter. He can be reached at 817-390-7747 or lranker@star-telegram.com.
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