Harvey Wasserman :
Gorgeous global march shows how to win
the climate fight

Huge environmental action in New York teaches us that the answer to change lies with the grass roots.

don't frack with us

People’s Climate March in New York City, September 21, 2014. Photo by Shadia Fayne Wood / peoplesclimate.org

By Harvey Wasserman | The Rag Blog | September 22, 2014

NEW YORK — The massive People’s Climate March, the most hopeful, diverse, photogenic, energizing, and often hilarious march I’ve joined in 52 years of activism — and one of the biggest, at 400,000 strong — has delivered a simple messag​e: we can and will rid the planet of fossil fuels and nuclear power, we will do it at the grassroots, it will be demanding and difficult to say the least, but it will also have its moments of great fun.

With our lives and planet on the line, our species has responded.

Ostensibly, this march was in part meant to influence policy makers. That just goes with the territory.

But in fact what it showed was an amazingly broad-based, diverse, savvy, imaginative, and very often off-beat movement with a deep devotion to persistence and cause, and a great flair for fun.

The magic of today’s New York minute was its upbeat diversity, sheer brilliance and
relentless charm.
people's climate march 2

Photo by Heather Craig.

The magic of today’s New York minute was its upbeat diversity, sheer brilliance, and relentless charm. A cross between a political rally and a month at Mardi Gras. There were floats, synchronized dances, outrageous slogans, chants, songs, costumes, marching bands, hugs, parents with their kids, and one very sweaty guy in a gorilla suit.

Above all, there was joy…which means optimism…which means we believe we can win…which is the best indicator we will.

This was a march of the regular citizenry, many come a very long way, at great discomfort and expense, deep into the process of being community organizers, intervenors, plaintiffs, civil disobedients, fundraisers, impromptu speakers, letter writers, and whatever else we might need to us get through this awful corporate disease.

For when push comes to shove — and it has — our Solartopian future will be won one victory at a time.

Oh yes, we will try to influence the policy-makers. The UN, the Obama Administration, the bought-and-rented Congress, the usual suspects.

But we won’t be begging. It needs to be the other way around.

harvey wasserman climate march bus

Harvey Wasserman on bus to New York. Photo by
Carolyn Harding.

Because what must happen most of all is organizing from the grassroots against each and every polluting power plant, unwanted permit, errant funding scheme, stomach-turning bribe, planet-killing frack well, soon-to-melt reactor, and much much more.

Winning this fight for global survival will be done not with one great triumph over corporate hypocrisy and greed. Instead it’ll require death by a million cuts, with countless small victories won day-to-day at the unseen grassroots. As the man said, this revolution will not be televised.

Manhattan’s flagship march was joined by sibling demonstrations throughout the world.

Manhattan’s flagship march was joined by sibling demonstrations throughout the world. By all counts millions of concerned citizens came out to say, loud and clear, that the debate is over:

Climate chaos is a clear and present danger.

It’s caused by “King CONG” — Coal, Oil, Nukes, and Gas.

climate crisis ahead

Photo by Heather Craig.

The corporations that threaten us all must be reorganized and held accountable. Corporate greed is no way to power an economy. Corporate personhood is an unsustainable myth. The corporate profit motive is at war with our survival.

But renewable energy, community-owned and operated, can and will green-power our Earth cleanly and cheaply, bringing jobs, prosperity, ecological balance and, in concert, peace and social justice, without which no green transition is sustainable.

And it will come to us on the wings of focused local campaigns against each and every polluting project, one at a time, through the grueling, endless hard work of an aroused and focused citizenry.

The people I saw, interviewed, and rode in on the bus with (from central Ohio; I got the last seat) are working locally while thinking globally. They are our species’ planetary immune system.

This march said we are now a mature movement with a great sense of mission, diversity and self. We know what the problem is. We know who the perpetrators are. We know what the solutions are, and that they work.

Will it be enough?

Time will tell. We must, as always, fight like hell. It will be hard, to say the least.

But please, along the way, let’s have many more marches like this one.

[Harvey Wasserman, a pioneer of the environmental movement, wrote Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and edits NukeFree.org. Read more of Harvey Wasserman’s writing on The Rag Blog.]

This entry was posted in RagBlog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Harvey Wasserman :
Gorgeous global march shows how to win
the climate fight

  1. SVH says:

    Thanks so much for this great report about a great event!

  2. Fran says:

    Excellent and inspiring description of the march. Thank you!

  3. Frances Morey says:

    Capitalism doesn’t serve most of the people on this earth. I love the demonstrations going on pitting capitalism vs. climate change. It is time to take away the power of Big Oil and switch to clean, renewable energy sources. We must get past the polluting and dirty petroleum and coal based energy sources of today. The reassurance of a GAI would help make the seismic shift politically feasible. GAI is for Guaranteed Annual Income. I try to mention it four times a day.

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      Maybe Frances could start a business and actually produce something that he wants other to purchase and use. Then he could live hand to mouth for a few years while holding on to his business by his fingernails until his business gets some momentum. Then he could relax a little but still make less than some of his own employees. Eventually, after a decade perhaps, he might be successful and then get to hear others, who take no risks and produce nothing, call him greedy and demand a guaranteed income. Ignorance is bliss .. eh Frances?

      – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

      • finding Common Ground says:

        Although I agree with you about the importance of small business, I think his point is that in America today, the gap has grown wildly out of proportion between those living in poverty and those who control a large majority of our nation’s wealth. The average worker takes many risks, in fact they risk any number of issues that can easily turn their life upside down, only it is not by choice. It’s the wealthy who propagate this myth of risk when most of the 1% now inherit their wealth and live with no risks at all. Instead, they pay our representatives to stack the deck in their favor. I’m a working middle class person with a small business, so I know what it is to work hard and then pay extra taxes on top. Yet, I was born into privilege and the low wage workers who can barely cover rent, food, utilities, etc pay a larger percentage of tax than you and I combined just in sales tax, when adjusted for all the tax credits, etc as a percentage of annual income. Do the math and get off your high horse.

      • chris says:

        Wow extremist. Be proud now, because the rape of the planet is depleting EVERYTHING. There will soon be nothing left to use to make ANYTHING with. That is the point. Pull your head out of that fuzzy fairy tale you are reading (aka the bible) and wake up to reality.

  4. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    I had my own protest yesterday. Against the protest marchers who left a ton of trash for others to clean up (the perfect description of liberalism in general). I watered my yard even though it wasn’t watering day. I left the water running when I brushed my teeth. I moved everything out the recycle bin and into the trash bin. I let the truck idle and produce as much emissions as possible. I turned the thermostat down so it ran for most of the day and then put a fire in the fireplace to bring the temperature back up.

    Think Globally . act locally 🙂

    – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

  5. David Bennett Laing says:

    This is very heartening, and it shows how concerned citizens can come together and mobilize for a worthy cause. Unfortunately, it also shows how good, well-intentioned people can be fooled by a corrupt group of climate “experts” into believing that climate science is “settled,” and that carbon dioxide is the cause of global warming. If it were, then global temperatures would still be rising, along with carbon dioxide. According to NOAA, they aren’t, and they haven’t been since 1998. In other words, climate science has a big problem, and if temperature doesn’t start rising again soon, the problem will become increasingly obvious until the climate experts will be forced to admit that there’s something wrong with the greenhouse gas theory of global warming. No, I’m not a “climate denier,” and I’m no friend of Big Oil or Big Coal. I’m just a paleoclimatologist who values truth over bogus science. Demonizing carbon dioxide makes no sense if it’s not what’s causing (or what caused) global warming. We need to reconsider that assumption, and soon. Meanwhile, let’s use this good start to mobilize for something we can be certain about, like income inequality in America. Perhaps the best place place to start would be the re-occupation of Wall Street.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all that you are doing to save this world of ours!!

  7. analyst says:

    Extremist2TheDHS must be a very unhappy person. While the rest of us are cheering, he has nothing better to do than to repeatedly offer nasty remarks. While the rest of us try to save the planet and our God-given environment, he is doing whatever he can to degrade it. What a sorry picture.

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      Two sides to every coin analyst. I point out the blatant hypocrisy of the movement you embrace. The people who marched produced tons of emission flying and driving to attend the march. The massive amount of trash they left behind will wind up in a landfill.

      The marchers protested capitalism as they stayed in comfy hotels run by capitalists, ate at restaurants run by capitalists, carried signs printed at capitalist print shops, wore clothes and shoes produced by capitalists who employ third world labor because its cheaper. etc etc ETC.

      By behaving in my own small way like the morons who marched in New York, I hoped to point out their hypocrisy and utter foolishness. I would bet a fair amount of them dont even know what the hell they marched for. For them its just American Idol for climate change proponents … they chant and carry a sign when they are told to. Its much fawning and noise about nothing important, carried out by idiots who have no clue they are just participating in reality show theater.

      – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

  8. Roberto Cumbia says:

    Harvey, how do we prevent this movement — via people like James Hansen — from be a foil for nuclear power?

  9. Hello, and welcome to “Climate Action Week!” With all do respect to David Bennett Laing, if he is not a “climate denier/delayer” per se, he will most certainly do until we find someone else! Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased (i.e., reaching, and now passing, 400 parts-per-million), and we have had among the hottest recorded years on record during the past decade. Around 98% of the scientists who actually do climate research agree about human-made disruptive climate change–and that climate-disrupting pollution (such as carbon dioxide) is the culprit. Every major scientific organization around the world has also endorsed this idea. Resorting to the name-calling of referring to climate scientists “corrupt” (as he did) is exactly the same propaganda tactic that the anti-sound science, ideologically-driven, extreme climate deniers/delayers have tried. Specifically, I refer to the “so-called ‘Climategate Scandal'” because that was a “big ‘to-do’ about a big bunch of nothing!” (All of the independent investigations have cleared the climate scientists of any wrong-goings–they are not conducting a “massive conspiracy” to hide, manipulate, and cover up climate data! I refer to it as “Hackergate,” because that was the real crime–and why aren’t all of the law-and-order right-wingers out hunting down the real perpetrators?) If he is “no friend of Big Oil or Big Coal” (as he claims), then his label of “corrupt” should be plastered all over the well-orchestrated (and well-funded), too successful misinformation/disinformation campaign of these large fossil fuel polluters to deliberately deceive the general public and news media–to contrive “doubt,” “confusion,” and “inaction.” While I appreciate the work of climatologist Dr. James Hansen, I do not agree with his “pro-nuke” point-of-view–and that is why Roberto Cumbia makes a good point. I am the Vice President of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), “Illinois’ Nuclear Power Watchdog Group,” and that is why NEIS is hard at work saying that: “You Cannot ‘Nuke’ Climate Disruption!” NEIS was a part of the “Carbon-Free/Nuclear-Free” constituency at the massive “People’s Climate March” in New York City last Sunday. The nuclear ‘power failure'” (get it?) has serious, unresolved, intractable technical and non-technical problems like weapons proliferation, higher capital (construction and operation/maintenance) costs, nuclear terrorism and sabotage, catastrophic disasters, major mishaps, radioactive wastes, reactor decommissioning, environmental pollution, health threats, and pro-nuclear hanky-panky (talk about corruption!). Only a complete technically and economically feasible transition to a “‘Carbon-Free/Nuclear-Free’ Energy Pathway” within 30-50 years (both in the United States and worldwide)–energy use reassessment/least-cost energy planning; the full practical use of the state-of-the-art energy efficiency improvements and techniques; combined heat-and-power (commercial and industrial co-generation); well designed and properly sited/installed, dispersed and distributed appropriate renewable energy technologies (using solar, wind, solid biomass, liquid biofuels, methane biogas, hydropower, geothermal, and ocean-thermal/wave and tidal); and updated and modernized ‘smart’ electricity grids with advanced energy storage–can provide the meaningful and timely reductions of our climate-disrupting pollution (i.e., carbon emissions) necessary at less cost.

  10. Mike says:

    Thanks for the recap and the positive energy. Love the enthusiasm. Screw the bastards, we ARE going to win!

  11. richard jehn says:

    Lance Renfrew (aka Extremist) never has known what he is talking about. I know numbers of folks who went to NYC for the September 21st event. All of them were deeply concerned about the carbon footprint of flying and were doing things in advance to reduce their fossil fuel usage. Moreover, they all were billeted with friends or other sympathetic New Yorkers who made couches, spare rooms, etc. available for participants. I’m sure some marchers stayed in hotels, but their awareness of the issues and the reasons they participated surpass Lance’s knowledge and willingness to find out the facts by a substantial margin. Anyone who takes Lance’s hypocritical and bitter rants at face value should reconsider reading this blog.

    I’m 100% with Mike. Yes, we WILL win, because the other guys are wrong and the reasons we need to win will overwhelm those who do not believe those reasons.

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      Not sure why Richard gets so angry. Typical response though … Ensure there is no real diversity of opinion while claiming to value it. Attack those whose views you disagree with rather than debate their ideas. Ensure uniformity of ideology by making examples of those who are non-conformist. Richard seems to be applying for the role of Bull Connor. When do the new fire hoses arrive at the Rag Blog?

      – Proud to be an Extremist2TheDHS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *