Keeping movements alive is hard work—they run on the energy of volunteers, and they can be derailed by too many successes, too many failures, too many internal conflicts, too many conflicts of interest. Or they could be hampered by a pandemic that largely brought the climate movement to a standstill just months after its biggest single day in September 2019, when millions of people around the world, most of whom mostly young people) took to the streets; in New York City, a quarter of a million people joined Greta Thunberg, the then 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, according to organizers.
Sunday’s March to End Fossil Fuels was modest — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a rousing wrap-up speech at the end of the day, and attendance was estimated to be between five and seventy thousand people At that time, organizers claimed that there were 75,000 people, and era Used with “tens of thousands”. But it didn’t matter – the march was much larger than organizers expected and represented a real return to the streets for climate activists. I wandered back and forth along the march route, from Broadway in Fifties Crosstown to First Avenue near the United Nations; the sun was shining, emotions were high, and the signs were smart. (“Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriend deserves a future.”)
I know many of the people leading the marches: Act III, the over-sixty progressive group I helped found, which sent chapters from across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York; Seasoned organizers like Pastor Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, and Naomi Klein, who took time off from her book tour to work on the newly released Doppelgänger. Clearly, the climate movement, led by Indigenous groups and frontline communities, has remained intact over the past few years. Huge credit goes to Jean Su, organizer of the national NGO Center for Biological Diversity (“Our Mission: Saving Life on Earth”), who organized a massive march in just a few months .
However, it is also clear that this movement needs to expand again. Campaigns have their structure from a core of committed activists, but their strength comes from large numbers of less engaged citizens whom they can temporarily lure to join; a movement’s victory means somehow reaching the broad center and convincing people They can make a difference, even if they only do so temporarily. For example, in September 2014, a climate march across Manhattan attracted as many as 400,000 marchers. They came not out of existential fear (2014 was actually an ice age compared to the heat and fires we saw this summer), but because they sensed an opportunity to send a message ahead of the Paris climate talks, and Their message was heard. Here is what President Barack Obama said two days later at the United Nations:
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez reiterated this theme yesterday. “This means something,” she told marchers. “I’ve been in rooms in Washington and people are saying they’re committed to this issue, but we need a sense of urgency.” She may have been thinking about President Joe Biden, who will address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. At various points during the meeting, the audience booed when his name was mentioned as he greenlighted new fossil fuel projects, but they also reserved their loudest for Ocasio-Cortez. Cheers, of course, for his support for Biden’s re-election; clearly there is at least some understanding of the political realities of this tantalizing campaign.
I spoke with marchers who thought turnout should be higher, given that this summer’s temperatures may be the warmest in 125,000 years, Canadian wildfire smoke fills the skies over U.S. cities, and severe flooding in Libya , causing terrible casualties. But growing or redeveloping a movement takes time, and the good vibes of this one will make recruiting easier on the next day like this. Of course, we don’t have endless time. But yesterday was a crucial, easy step. The world moves on again. ❖