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Restuccia writes: "Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined a larger-than-expected throng of activists, scientists, students and elected officials who took to New York City’s streets Sunday for a massive march meant to sound the alarm about climate change."

A man dragging a tray of dry ice in front of the Alaska state flag participates in the People's Climate March on September 21, 2014 in New York City. (photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
A man dragging a tray of dry ice in front of the Alaska state flag participates in the People's Climate March on September 21, 2014, in New York City. (photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


Climate March Shatters Record

By Andrew Restuccia, Politico

22 September 14

 

l Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined a larger-than-expected throng of activists, scientists, students and elected officials who took to New York City’s streets Sunday for a massive march meant to sound the alarm about climate change.

Organizers initially estimated that the march had drawn 310,000 people, then raised that estimate to nearly 400,000 — far exceeding their projections of 100,000 attendees and making the procession through midtown Manhattan by far the largest climate-related protest in history. New York police did not offer their own crowd count.

Participants waved flags, pounded on drums and carried signs that said “No More Climate Change” and “Climate Action Now,” while police blocked traffic along Central Park West from 59th Street to 86th Street.

The scene turned a bit chaotic when Gore, Moon, scientist Jane Goodall and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the march around 12:45 p.m., with police, security officers and arms-linked volunteers holding back the crowd while photographers clicked away. After a moment of silence, the crowd erupted in cheers.

Others taking part in Sunday’s protest included Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) as well as former Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Participants said they were trying to send a message to elected officials that tackling climate change, an issue that has often taken a back seat in Washington, should be a top priority.

“It shows we have power,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “It’s a diverse coalition. It’s broad and it’s growing in strength and it’s growing in diversity. And it’s increasingly impatient at the rate of progress.”

But it wasn’t making an immediate splash on national TV — “Meet the Press” didn’t mention the march, while CNN, Fox and MSNBC were focusing on issues like the NFL, the fight against ISIL, Friday’s White House intruder and the November elections.

The march comes just two days before more than 120 world leaders and other high-ranking officials, including President Barack Obama, are slated to descend on New York City for a United Nations climate change summit. Countries are working toward reaching an international climate change accord at the end of 2015 that would go into effect in 2020.

De Blasio said he hoped this week’s events would mark a “turning point moment” for the climate cause, but conceded that that’s far from certain.

“Summits sometimes spark great change — rallies, protests sometimes spark great change. Sometimes they don’t,” de Blasio said. He added, “My sense is that the energy you’re seeing on the streets, the numbers that have amassed here and in other cities around the world suggest something bigger is going on.”

The march was organized by more than 1,500 groups and spearheaded by 350.org, the same upstart climate activist group that has turned the proposed Keystone XL pipeline into a political quagmire for President Barack Obama. Activists mounted a massive effort to spread the word and attract the public, distributed more than 1 million flyers around New York City and chartered nearly 500 buses to bring people from around the country.

Organizers said they held more than 2,000 climate-focused events in 162 countries, and Twitter’s feeds on Sunday included photos from marches in cities like London, Berlin, Rome, Rio de Janeiro and Melbourne, Australia. The Associated Press said 40,000 people attended the London protest, including musician Peter Gabriel and actress Emma Thompson.

But the New York City march was the centerpiece.

Mary Francis, carrying a sign proclaiming herself an “angry granny,” said she came to the march from Oklahoma.

“This is a problem that my generation has created,” said Francis, 72. “My parents didn’t know about this problem. But my generation knows and we have to do what we can to fix what we can.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer called the protest “a message to our dysfunctional federal government that we’re not going to be pushed out of our planet.”

While several polls have painted climate change as a marginal priority for most voters, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer predicted Sunday that the mass demonstration will show that it’s “a first-tier political issue, that the ability to sweep this under the rug is over.”

And Obama is one person surely paying attention, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said before the march kicked off.

“You don’t get to be president of the United States by ignoring huge outpourings of public sentiment,” McKibben said.


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+7 # Buddha 2014-09-22 11:56
"And Obama is one person surely paying attention, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said before the march kicked off. “You don’t get to be president of the United States by ignoring huge outpourings of public sentiment,”

You mean like how Obama ignored Occupy, and ultimately had Holder coordinate with mayors across the nation to simultaneously crush said "huge outpourings of public sentiment"?
 
 
+5 # jsluka 2014-09-22 13:09
The claim by Sierra Club Director Brune that this protest "shows we have power" is, sadly, incorrect because we no longer live in a democracy where such 'people power' would count for something. Instead, we now live under a corporate oligarchy and what this protest will confirm is our powerlessness because it will be totally ignored and achieve nothing. Does anyone believe that peaceful protest achieves anything anymore?
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2014-09-23 05:02
It really comes down to the environment or the US wars. The US government cannot focus its energy on making changes in the energy sector as long as it is fighting wars all over the world, some of them with the direct purpose of securing control of oil and other natural resources.

It is possible to convert to non-carbon based fuel, but it will take a massive and coordinated national campaign that will have to last for a long time. Such a campaign would be the best thing for the US and the world. But the war parties (both reps and dems) have control of the government and they are focused on war. Nothing else.
 
 
+4 # Kathymoi 2014-09-22 17:52
The fact that major media didn't even mention it is additional evidence that our media is owned by people promoting a point of view that is not supportive of the people, of information, of the environment, of truth or even of life. There are only six corporations that own all the major media, but---as evidenced by the absence on all of them of coverage of this major, global event---they are all pretty much alike. It's one of the "consolidation of ownership" problems that politicians are not dealing with. And it is a climate change issue, because the owners who are consolidating more and more ownership into their hands are the environment destroyers.
 
 
+1 # RnR 2014-09-23 04:42
MSNBC didn't "move forward" did they? And Chris Hayes looked like an imbecile when he acted surprised about Sam Sutter (Bristol County DA) dropping charges and fully supporting the 2 who blocked a coal shipment with a lobster boat in Brayton Point, Mass.

Amy Goodman and Democracy Now had that story at least a week ago. Got to love the corporate media. Rachel is no better.
 

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