Sounding the Climate Alarm

| 9/29/2014 1:02:00 PM

people climate march 

Over 310,000 people filled the streets for the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014. Freelance reporter/photographer Katie Moore was there and filed this report.

The People's Climate March, which took over a wide swath of midtown Manhattan on September 21st, was billed as the largest climate march in history before it even took place. And the projection turned out to be right with over 310,000 people participating in the march, timed two days before the U.N. Climate Summit. But it wasn't just a numbers game. The power also resided in the diversity of the voices present. The march was organized into six broad contingencies with indigenous and environmental justice groups leading the way. They were followed by labor activists, mainstream environmental organizations, anti-capitalists, scientists, and community groups. Field organizer Garrett O'Connor commented, "The organizations participating in the march are many, and the central focus of their everyday work varies greatly. Some are focused on immigration reform, universal healthcare, police violence, LGBT rights, and the list goes on. The march has given space to these groups to interact with each other and understand that climate issues affect everyone."

people climate marcher On the ground, despite being packed in at many places, it was difficult to realize the scope of the march which stretched for over 25 blocks. But there was an energy in meeting people who had come from across the country and hearing different calls of action which ranged from veganism to investments in renewable energy to revolution. Thousands of signs were made that read “I'm Marching For ________” that people then filled in with their own responses which included "the future," "mother earth," "food sovereignty," "penguins," "U.N. action," "gross national happiness," and "all our children."

At 12:58 p.m. there was a moment of silence for the victims of climate change, and at 1 p.m. there was a wave of sound that erupted symbolizing the climate alarm. The march made its way downtown for over a mile and wound down at 34th Street and 11th Avenue. There people could write what they wanted to protect from climate change on ribbons which were hung in a temporary installation. In the march’s attendance were big names such as Al Gore, Ban Ki-moon, Jane Goodall, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Ruffalo.

Despite some disagreements over issues such as the march's route (which did not go by the U.N) and the inclusion of some groups (such as both pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear groups), the march was declared a success with over 1,000 organizations participating and no reported arrests. Worldwide, the call for climate change action spawned over 2,800 solidarity events in 166 countries. In Berlin, Germany, marcher Laura Thépot remarked, "I'm very interested in the outcome of our planet's health, even more so since my little boy was born. I would like to ensure that he has a healthy future. In any case, if this march goes down in history like they say it will, we can be proud to tell our son that this was his first demo." Back in New York, hundreds of events were coordinated the week of the U.N. Summit including panel talks, teach-ins, and art exhibits.

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