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People's Climate March—Largest Climate March in World History—Launched in Times Square
A spirited press conference in Times Square today launched the People's Climate March, the largest climate action in world history.
"The voice of youth is crucial in the People's Climate March." Photo credit: greenelent
Scheduled for Sept. 21 in New York City, the People’s Climate March will coincide with September’s UN Climate Summit, where world leaders including President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in attendance in answer to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon summons to consult on climate change.
Key organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and millions nationwide, hosted the press conference today to explain the goals of the mobilization and to share expectations for the UN summit. Representatives from New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Sierra Club, 350.org, UPROSE and a number of local unions were there, as well as faith leaders, speakers from superstorm Sandy-impacted communities and millennials.
"The voice of youth is crucial in the People's Climate March," said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE. "They are the first and last generation that can make a difference in this global crisis. We have to work inter-generationally to build momentum for frontline communities and provide our people with the resources to address this complex issue."
"With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history." Photo credit: Clara Vondrich
The People's Climate March will highlight the climate crisis and the need to act now with bold solutions. More than 500 organizations—from community and labor groups to international NGOs and faith organizations—around the world have joined to organize or endorse the event. They describe the motivation for the march as follows:
With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.
"To the untrained eye, this looks like an alliance of unusual bedfellows—labor joining hands with faith joining hands with national environmental groups," said Eddie Bautista, executive director of New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. "But the idea that there is choice between environment and economy is a dated paradigm. The climate change march is not about slicing and dicing a political agenda—it's a big tent. We invite all with an interest in the future.”
Key organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and millions nationwide, hosted the press conference today. Photo credit: Sierra Club
Bill McKibben, 350.org founder, hopes you'll be there. In an EcoWatch blogpost he said, "We need to show just how big and unified our movement has grown, from the environmental justice advocates fighting fossil fuel pollution in our communities to the students demanding divestment on our campuses, from the scientists who have seen their warnings so far ignored to the clergy now showing real moral leadership.
If you’re wondering how to react to the devastating news that the Antarctic is melting out of control: New York. If you’re scared like I am by the pictures of the fire and drought across the West: New York. If you’re feeling like it’s time to change the trajectory of this planet: we’ll see you in New York."
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Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.
Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.
Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?