Yesterday was the People's Climate March. People in cities around the world marched to draw attention to climate change and to show their leaders that this is an issue they care about. Two of those marchers were Alden of Ecocult and me, along with our significant others (read her account here). It was the biggest climate-related march in history, with 400,000 participants in NYC alone.
A lot of different messages rang through the march. But if the message of change is complex, it's only reflecting the complex issue of climate change itself. Our Earth has been damaged in sophisticated ways, and so the solution will necessarily be sophisticated too. Marchers drew attention to various issues from fracking (one of the most popular) to gas pipelines to the ills of capitalism, and lines can be drawn from any of these issues to the resulting climate change we are now facing.
Marching along side each other were groups as diverse as anarchists, unions, religious organizations, and indigenous peoples from as far away as the Marshall Islands, in an effort to demonstrate that climate change affects us all. Impassioned citizens all, we were asking (nay pleading) with our leaders to take action. If the other marchers are anything like me, they do their part as responsible citizens; but individuals lack the genuine power that policies and regulations have to make big changes that will have the most impact on climate change. For example, I opt to pay for wind as my power source, but my offset is a drop in the bucket compared to the sea of oil our country uses and continues to rely on.
One of the most surreal parts of the march was going through Times Square, the mecca of consumerism, with our message. You might think, "What does a company like McDonald's have to do with climate change?" Destructive contributions include encouraging monocultures, which lead to more pesticides and GMO crops; and large-scale factory farming, which is the most destructive industry on the planet to name just two. Consumers should be aware of these issues and buy according to their consciences. However, it should be stated that the blame lies with corporations and not consumers. Corporations could make changes and put people and the environment ahead of profits, they choose not to because capitalism dictates they do the opposite. Check out #DisruptDenial to learn about brands that are actually funding climate change denial. It should also be noted that plenty of companies do go against the norm and are still viable enterprises.
There were plenty of families with children in the crowds, which was delightful. They are the future (and will likely have to deal with our mess) so I was happy to see them participating.
The march on Sunday was respectful and family-friendly, so while not the exact message I'd like to give our political leaders, 400,000 participants is nothing to sniff at. Climate Week continues and one of the more provocative events occurred today at Wall Street. Activists dressed in blue swarmed around the NY Stock Exchange in an effort to #FloodWallStreet in an act of civil disobedience. Follow the hashtag on Twitter for developments.
I hope that the People's Climate March has opened up the conversation around climate change and will be the harbinger of changes to the system. Those of you who read this blog are, I'm sure, marching everyday for change. Small change, big change, personal change. On Sunday, I marched for the future. What are you marching for?
Find the rest of my photos on Flickr. Use them if you want, just throw me a link back and attribution, please!