The fight against climate change returns to the streets

By | September 18, 2023

Bill McKibben writes:

Keeping movements alive is hard work—they run on volunteer energy, and they can be derailed by too much success, too much failure, too much internal strife, too many competing interests. Or they can be hindered by a pandemic, which largely brought the climate movement to a halt just months after its biggest single day, in September of 2019, when millions of people around the world, most of them young, took to the streets; in New York City, according to organizers, a quarter million of them joined the then sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg down at the Battery.

Sunday’s March to End Fossil Fuels was not as big—Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in a rousing wrap-up speech at the end of the day, estimated the crowd at between fifty and seventy thousand people, the organizers said seventy-five thousand, and the Times went with “tens of thousands.” But that didn’t matter—the march was considerably larger than organizers had expected, and represented a real return to the streets for climate campaigners. I wandered back and forth along the line of march, which went from Broadway in the fifties crosstown to First Avenue, near the United Nations; the sun was bright, spirits were high, and the signs were clever. (“Leonardo DiCaprio’s Girlfriends Deserve a Future.”)

I knew many of the people leading the parade: Third Act, the progressive group for people over sixty that I helped found, sent chapters from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and across New York; and there were such veteran organizers as the Reverend Lennox Yearwood, of the Hip Hop Caucus, and Naomi Klein, who took time off from her book tour for the newly released “Doppelganger” to attend. Clearly, the climate movement, led by Indigenous groups and frontline communities, has come through the past few years intact; enormous credit is due to the organizers, including Jean Su, of the national N.G.O. the Center for Biological Diversity (“Our Mission: Saving Life on Earth”), who pulled together a major march in a matter of months. [Continue reading…]

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