Sabin Russell Science Writer

20Sep/14Off

Boots on the Ground: New York City, September 21, 2014

sandyClimate change never sleeps, yet we may have caught it napping. It is hurricane season on the East Coast, but tomorrow New York City will be awash in people, instead of the Atlantic Ocean.
The weather reports for New York City predict a 40 percent chance of light rain, enough to make the People’s Climate March less of a sunny day party, and more of a somber procession, but not enough to wash it out.

My suspicion is that everyone with a conscience within 100 miles of the Big Apple knows at least someone planning to show up for the March, pre-billed as the largest demonstration in history for climate action. The hype is a little risky, in case the turnout is low; but my bet is the world will be stunned by how many boots will be marching on the streets of the world’s greatest city.
Well, actually they’ll be marching in New York City, but as a San Franciscan I am reminded of the early morning of May 24, 1987, when my wife and I and newborn son arose at 5 a.m. to walk half a mile to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was closed to allow pedestrians to walk across it, celebrating its 50th birthday. We must have had half a dozen friends mention that they were thinking of taking the early morning stroll. In fact, 300,000 of us showed up, in the dawn’s early light.

Something akin to that will happen in New York tomorrow. Like the pedestrians who headed for the Golden Gate Bridge, most of the People’s Climate marchers will never reach their goal, because the streets will be clogged with so many like-minded people with the same destination.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA heavy turnout in New York will, in a small way, be a tribute to the embattled farmers of Nebraska, who -- in standing up against the Keystone XL pipeline and the monstrous practice of tar sands mining in Canada -- are demonstrating the power of everyday Americans to do something about climate change. The aggressive fossil fuels industry has to be blocked, and the good people of Bold Nebraska and Dakota Rural Action are showing us all how it is done.

 
I happen to believe that we have already turned the corner on ignorance about climate change. Whether the polls show it or not, the average American citizen knows now that human activity is disrupting the climate, and it threatens our children and our children’s children. What’s needed now is behavior change. One way to make that happen is to show up, to literally vote with our feet, and witness history as it being made. On the truly important issues of our time, our leaders need to be led.
NorCal_PCM_SmallI won’t be attending the event in New York City. I'd be burning a lot of carbon, and spending a lot of money I don't have, to jet to the Big Apple. But this is a global movement, and at different locales across the country and around the world, we can lend our support to the more proximate marchers in New York by attending local rallies. I’ll be at Oakland’s Lake Merritt tomorrow at 2 p.m. After tomorrow, we all need to be on this, in some way, every day.

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Posted by Sabin Russell

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