An old friend recently got in touch to let me know he’ll be joining me at the People's Climate March in New York City this weekend. He’s coming from pretty far out of town, and he’s not the type some people would consider a traditional climate activist. But he’s making the effort to join us. To me, that’s what this march is about. The realization that climate change touches all our lives, and that none of us can afford to be complacent about it. That’s why thousands of people, young and old, from all walks of life, will be raising our voices together to demand climate action.
This will be the largest climate march in history, and the timing is key: we will take to the streets on Sunday, September 21, just as world leaders begin to gather in New York City for the U.N. Climate Summit.
Our presence will demonstrate the groundswell of support for climate action that has grown around the country and across communities. More than 1,100 organizations, including community, labor, environmental justice, faith and progressive groups will be participating in the March to demand action on climate change. Every single U.S. state will be represented. Students from more than 300 college campuses are mobilizing to come to New York.
This diverse group of concerned citizens is united by a desire to see a more just and sustainable future. Another friend and colleague, a litigator like me, is also coming to march. He and I successfully argued one of the two cases that led to Supreme Court rulings which established the EPA’s authority to limit carbon pollution from power plants. You bet we want to see the EPA use that authority to cut power plant pollution and protect our health.
And we are both marching because we know that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is being attacked ferociously by the fossil fuel industry; this march will make clear to our policy makers that they should listen to the vast majority of people who want a clean future, not the few who profit from the dirty present.
My friend who’s coming from far outside the city works in land conservation. Back in the day, land conservation and climate change were considered separate concerns. They attracted different supporters. Now, the urgency and reach of the climate problem is bringing all of us together.
Climate has a tremendous impact on land conservation—just think of the coastlines being swallowed by sea level rise. Areas that have been preserved as habitat for certain species will soon no longer be suitable habitat—they may become too warm, too wet, or invaded by new species that thrive in the new environment. Wetlands dry up. Plant and animal species that have been brought back from the brink of extinction by conservation efforts may end up in peril, once again.
But land conservation in turn can also limit climate damage. Protected forests help soak up carbon, and open lands likewise help soak up heavy rainfall and floodwaters, reducing the impacts of extreme weather.
My daughter invited her friends to join her at the march—she’ll be celebrating her birthday there with a cast of thousands. Young people like her are marching because they are the generation that will bear the brunt of the consequences if world leaders continue to kick the can down the road instead of facing up to our shared responsibilities.
Climate change—and efforts to curb it—affect us all.
All of us are marching—conservationists, litigators, old school and new blood, labor and faith, moms and kids--not just to draw attention to the problem, but because we’re all part of the solution, too. Action to combat climate change will clean up air pollution so kids breathe easier; it creates good, local jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency—hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States alone; it means better transportation systems with more choices to get from one place to another; it means cooler, greener, walkable neighborhoods that are more pleasant to live in; it means we are finally stepping up to protect future generations from a legacy of rising seas, storms, dirty air, droughts and heat waves.
Citizen action is a powerful force for change. When so many of us, from so many disparate backgrounds, ages and interests, take to the streets together, our message cannot be ignored. We need swift, decisive solutions that will stabilize the climate and protect our future.
Join the People’s Climate March on September 21 in New York City. Show the leaders of the world as they gather at the UN a clear message: the people demand bold climate action, now.