Rena’s Climate Story
Philadelphia, PA, United States
How are you sensing climate change?
As I made my way down to the Schuylkill alongside my friends, our waivers were signed and life jackets worn. I chose a tandem with my friend; I was in the front and her in the back. The river was filled with trash and dirt. As we paddled, we used our oars to grab empty plastic trash—from bottles to deflated basketballs—and placed them into our kayak. I glanced at the film of an oily reflective substance on the water, showing a rainbow that broke into tiny fragments when touched. The kayak tilted left and right as we leaned softly. Boats with engines moved through the water splashing the water and leaving tiny waves, bouncing us up and down. “One, two, one, two, one, two,” I chanted. Our paddles dipped into the cloudy water simultaneously, creating a beautiful rhythm. As we lifted the tip of the paddle out of the water and turned to the opposite side, water dripped onto our legs, causing a disgusting yet cool feeling. Dirt remained on my skin and again onto my hands as I attempted to dust it off. We met families of ducks, wondering how any species could survive in the water. Others threw their fishing lines into the water, sitting there for hours and catching practically nothing. There was nothing left alive in the Schuylkill. Nothing except us.
How do these changes make you feel?
I felt devastated when I saw the muddy Schuylkill River water. It was no longer a clear blue color and it made me not want to continue recreational activities such as kayaking. While picking up trash, there were so many plastics we were not able to grab and it made our efforts feel pointless.
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