More than 310,000 people flooded the streets of New York City at the People’s Climate March on Sunday, September 21st, 2014. Organizers had only predicted 100k, wildly underestimating the passion and wherewithal of hundreds of thousands of people from all over the planet.
We marched. We chanted. We danced. We sang. And we demanded that world leaders take action on climate change as the United Nations Summit convenes this coming week. Ban-Ki Moon, the Secretary-General of the UN, marched in the People’s Climate March in a rare display of solidarity. Many other celebrities and leaders were there — but that’s not what matters most. What matters is what we do next.
The phrase I heard most often when I asked why people were marching was, “I’m marching for my children.” The science is settled, and the consensus among Americans is that change must happen now — or else the next generations will be forced to move away from the coasts, doomed to constant resource wars, droughts, ever worsening wildfires, superstorms, food shortages, and much worse. Yet our media continues to report on ISIS as if it’s the only existential threat we face — as if climate isn’t in acute crisis. My favorite sign today read: “Your grandchildren are more likely to die from climate change than terrorism.”
Before the march, there was talk that the most influential environmental organizations, some aligned with corporate agendas, had usurped the mission of the People’s Climate March — making it less about people power and more about political and corporate power. Yes, these organizations were there, but they didn’t take up all the air in the proverbial room. The people spoke, the people connected with one another — and if our leaders do not listen to us — the people will build change from the grassroots. Big Oil knows how to manipulate our leaders with lobbying money, but we can outsmart them.
I marched with the fracktivist contingent — we sprawled for blocks. Frackstivists hail from all over the country — fighting poisoned, flammable water and a host of other illnesses that have been unleashed into their communities thanks to the natural gas industry. Fracktivists are now fighting to stop Liberty National Gas from building deepwater terminals off our coasts. One of these export facilities is proposed right off the coast of Long Island, threatening the lives of people in communities already ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. The brilliant activists behind Sane Energy Project just launched a groundbreaking interactive map linking all the areas that the natural gas industry has ravaged in New York (or will ravage if they get their way).
The People’s Climate March was massive — and massively inspirational. Yet there is much more work to be done. On Monday, September 22nd activists will convene to #FloodWallStreet in a direct action that addresses the raw truth of climate change — that Wall Street bankers and corporations are the real reason our seas are rising.
No matter how perfectly we live our lives — recycling, using the right light bulbs, wearing eco-friendly makeup and eating organic food — we cannot save the planet for our children unless we halt carbon consumption. Capitalism runs on unchecked carbon consumption, and unless we stop feeding that monster, there will be no real change. The People’s Climate March started the conversation — and we don’t have much time left to spread this particular truth.
I’ll be at the action on Wall Street — follow my updates @ecosexuality.
Stefanie Iris Weiss is the author of “Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets” and “Make Your Love Life Sustainable” (Ten Speed Press/Crown Publishing, 2010) and eight other books. Stefanie keeps her carbon footprint small in New York City, where she writes about sustainability, sexuality, reproductive rights, dating and relationships, politics, fashion, beauty, and more for many publications.
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images via Stefanie Iris Weiss