Quantcast
Climate

To Change Everything We Need Everyone

The slogan of the 300,000+ People’s Climate March that rolled over Manhattan like a tsunami yesterday, “To change everything we need everyone” was embodied not only in the raw numbers—larger than the 1963 March for Jobs and Justice led by Martin Luther King—but also in the incredible diversity of the crowd and the organizations participating, and the careful structuring of its building blocks.

There were separate staging and rallying locations for front line communities, labor, churches and civic groups, anti-mining, drilling and fracking activities, environmentalists pursuing climate solutions like renewable energy. Put together these blocks told a story—of the way in which each one of these tribal communities can be part of a bigger climate movement. The media coverage, of course, missed the granularity of this organizing structure—but couldn't help be influenced by it. The lead voice in the New York Times story was not Bill McKibben, Al Gore or Ban ki-Moon, but Carol Sutton of the Connecticut teacher’s union.

But while the entire story didn't make it onto the front page, it was laid out intentionally and clearly for the 300,000 participants—making this rally far more of an educational and explanatory exercise than any protest march I've previously witnessed.

The Secretary General’s act in joining this march—whose expressed purpose was to apply pressure to the nations gathering at the UN Climate Summit this week—was still extraordinary and unprecedented, as well as alarming. In effect, he was publicly calling out his bosses, the UN member nations, for inadequate leadership on climate.

Underneath it all, making this day possible, was the terrible tragedy of Hurricane Sandy. Sandy has impacted this metropolitan region far more deeply than similar climate tragedies in other regions, making a climate movement a reality here more deeply even than in ostensibly greener California. I can’t for example, imagine a climate rally in San Francisco in which a building super, representing SEI Local 32BJ, proclaimed that every building his colleagues come into they find ways to reduce energy consumption.

But while consciousness and nascent movement building are deeper here than in California, policy lags. So my guess is that Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s announcement that NYC would cut emissions 80 percent by 2050 will only be the first of a series of climate solution milestones to come out of this region.

The People’s March is not the only fertile idea spawned by Ban ki-Moon’s decision to call this summit. Cornell’s school of labor relations hosted a deep dive by global trade leaders into the question of how the coming transition from the age of fossil fuels to the age of clean energy can be made democratic and publicly accountable in a way that coal and oil never were. C40, the global consortium of major cities working on climate chaired by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hosted a glittering awards ceremony to showcase the best ideas emerging from urban ingenuity. The 10 winners span the globe. San Francisco’s Zero Waste program is up there with Rio’s Sustainable Cities initiatives and Singapore’s Intelligent Transit.

Cities are, in my view, going to be the game breaker. They will, for the first time, house far more than  half of humanity by 2050; they are enormous energy consumers but not very big producers, the natural gas coming out from under the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport notwithstanding. So the politics of a transition off ever more expensive and dangerous carbon fuels is right for them, and they are the center of knowledge aggregation and connection—the key ingredient to finding ways to meet the world’s energy needs without continuing to mine and release fossil carbon.

So, yes, I think this summit will be seen as a game changer for climate. And the fact that it took place in New York is not accidental.

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

‘This Changes Everything’ Including the Anti-Fracking Movement

McKibben to Obama: Fracking May Be Worse Than Burning Coal

People’s Climate March = Tipping Point in Fight to Halt Climate Crisis

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
In 2018, the Arctic region had the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage on record. NOAAPMEL / YouTube

The Past 5 Years Were the Arctic's Warmest on Record

The Arctic is still warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth, and the region's air temperatures in the past five years between 2014-2018 have exceeded all previous records since 1900, according to a peer-reviewed report released by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Tuesday.

The agency's 13th annual Arctic Report Card also concluded that 2018 was second only to 2016 in terms of the region's overall warmth.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
Partial solar eclipse. ndersbknudsen, CC BY 2.0

3 Key Dangers of Solar Geoengineering and Why Some Critics Urge a Global Ban

By Justin Mikulka

A Harvard research team recently announced plans to perform early tests to shoot sunlight-reflecting particles into the high atmosphere to slow or reverse global warming.

These research efforts, which could take shape as soon as the first half of 2019, fall under the banner of a geoengineering technology known as solar radiation management, which is sometimes called "sun dimming."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Even an increase of 2°C would cause significant sea level rise. pxhere

Report: Current Climate Policies Will Warm the World by 3.3˚C

This past October, a widely disseminated United Nations report warned that far-reaching and significant climate impacts will already occur at 1.5˚C of warming by 2100.

But in a study released Tuesday, researchers determined that the current climate polices of governments around the world will push Earth towards 3.3˚C of warming. That's more than two times the aspirational 1.5˚C target adopted by nearly 200 nations under the 2015 Paris agreement.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
garett_mosher / iStock / Getty Images

McDonald's to Reduce Antibiotics Use in Beef

In a significant win in the fight to save antibiotics, McDonald's—the largest and most iconic burger chain on the planet—announced Tuesday that it will address the use of antibiotics in its international supply chain for beef by 2021.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Protesters clashes with riot police on Foch avenue next to the Place de l'Etoile, setting cars ablaze during a Yellow Vest protest on Dec. 1 in Paris. Etienne De Malglaive / Getty Images

The Lesson From a Burning Paris: We Can’t Tax Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis

By Wenonah Hauter

The images from the streets of Paris over the past weeks are stark and poignant: thousands of angry protesters, largely representing the struggling French working class, resorting to mass civil unrest to express fear and frustration over a proposed new gas tax. For the moment, the protests have been successful. French President Emmanuel Macron backed off the new tax proposal, at least for six months. The popular uprising won, seemingly at the expense of the global fight against climate change and the future wellbeing of our planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Rainbow Mountains in Vinicuna, Perú. Megan Lough / UI International Programs / CC BY-ND 2.0

7 Reasons Why #Mountains Matter

December 11 is International Mountain Day, an annual occasion designated by the United Nations to celebrate Earth's precious mountains.

Mountains aren't just a sight to behold—they cover 22 percent of the planet's land surface and provide habitat for plants, animals and about 1 billion human beings. The vital landforms also supply critical resources such as fresh water, food and even renewable energy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Tetra Images / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Don’t Stress About What Kind of Christmas Tree to Buy, but Reuse Artificial Trees and Compost Natural Ones

By Bert Cregg

Environmentally conscious consumers often ask me whether a real Christmas tree or an artificial one is the more sustainable choice. As a horticulture and forestry researcher, I know this question is also a concern for the Christmas tree industry, which is wary of losing market share to artificial trees.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Woolsey Fire seen from Topanga, California on Nov. 9. Peter Buschmann / Forest Service, USDA

Hotter Planet Makes Extreme Weather Deadlier, New Study Finds

By Jake Johnson

With people across the globe mobilizing, putting their bodies on the line, and getting arrested en masse as part of a broad effort to force the political establishment to immediately pursue ambitious solutions to the climate crisis, new research published on Monday provided a grim look at what the future will bring if transformative change is not achieved: colossal flooding, bigger fires, stronger hurricanes and much more.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!