The largest environmental march ever brought hundreds of thousands into New York City streets, but the People’s Climate Watch was mostly ignored by the media. As was its companion action, Flood Wall Street, which targeted corporations behind climate instability with civil disobedience. Is the people’s voice on climate change being ignored by the corporate media, just as it’s been ignored by corporate-backed governments? We’ll speak with Anne Petermann, director of the Global Justice Ecology Project and the Climate Connections blog.
The summit convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which served as the inspiration for the People’s Climate March and Flood Wall Street, occurred ahead of conferences scheduled for Lima in December and Paris in 2015, where new long-term agreements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be hammered out. If we are to believe 98 percent of the world’s scientists, the future of human subsistence on this planet hinges on the strength of the pacts world governments will forge. Precious time will tell what the lasting impacts of the demonstrations will be, but already the protests that shook New York and much of the world (there were over 2,000 People’s Climate Marches globally) appear to have left their mark upon upper echelon spheres of power.
While the media focused on the spectacle of 400,000-plus bodies jammed along Central Park West as far as the eye could see, it was the networking that took place between all these grassroots groups and the connections made at events leading up to the march that gave it its real power.
Scores of workshops and gatherings were held in East Village community gardens and other parts of Lower Manhattan as part of the New York City Climate Convergence — which coincided with the annual Lower East Side Harvest festival — creating a synergy of art, music and activism that I haven’t experienced here for some time.
In the front section of the march, designated by organizers for “the people first and most impacted,” were representatives of the Kichwa from Ecuador, Taino from the Caribbean, Winnemem Wintu from California, and many other indigenous groups in traditional clothing. There were also members of the media and the musician Sting. Young people of color from Brooklyn held large paper sunflowers and an enormous banner reading: “FRONTLINES OF CRISIS, FOREFRONT OF CHANGE.” Above them were the glossy towers that mark the beginning of Midtown and the bright red CNN sign against the fog signaling that the 11:30 a.m. start time was drawing closer. On his spire, Columbus had his back to the crowd.
Five Saint Mary’s students and one professor boarded the Amtrak shortly after midnight on Friday to join more than 300,000 people in New York City for the People’s Climate March. After a 20-hour train ride, the women met up with five more Saint Mary’s students who traveled by car or by plane to attend Climate Convergence workshops hosted throughout Manhattan.
About 400,000 people went to the streets on September 21st to ask for real actions to address climate change. It was the greatest climate march in history. The UN Climate Summit organized by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took place two days later with the participation of 100 heads of state and 800 leaders from business. How did this Summit react to the demands of the peoples climate march? Did it meet the expectations?
In order to listen and participate in the debates that will direct the future of environmental activism, many Tech students attended the NYC Climate Convergence, an arrangement of conferences and workshops held in the two days preceding the march. Organized by multiple groups, the Climate Convergence intended to build and strengthen an environmental movement that addresses the root causes of the climate crises.
Next week, world leaders will meet in New York City for a climate summit led by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon. He’ll be urging governments to drastically lower the pollution that causes global warming, but one man can’t do it alone. That’s where we (and YOU!) come in…
One participant in the organizing meetings said, “In the beginning people were saying, ‘This is our Seattle,’” referring to the 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial that was derailed by direct action. But the paid staff got the politics-free Climate March. Another source said, “You wouldn’t see Avaaz promoting an occupy-style action. The strategic decision was made to have a big march and get as many mainstream groups on board as possible.”