On Sunday, February 17th I was one of 50,000 people who made their way to Washington DC for the Forward on Climate Rally. Our goal was to show President Obama that there is broad public support for addressing climate solutions and holding him to his promise to make the environment and the climate a top priority in his second term. One of the biggest upcoming decisions he can make is to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which has the potential to be one of the most epic disasters in our fossil fuel addicted history. Other important issues are reducing and eliminating dirty coal plats, mountaintop removal, fracking and natural gas extraction and funding sustainable energy projects.
For this rally, I traveled by bus along with 120 other committed and dedicated environmental activists from Delaware to stand, listen and to march on a bitterly cold and windy February afternoon. I was worried the cold might keep people away–the coordinators of the rally (The Sierra Club, 350.org and the Hip Hop Caucus) were estimating 20,000 participants–but the cold was only a small obstacle as 50,000 filled the National Mall near the Washington Monument.
It was there that we listened to speakers like Bill McKibben president of 350.org; Van Jones, former Obama “green jobs czar”; Indigenous leaders from both the US and Canada; clean energy investor Tom Steyer; Michael Brune of the Sierra Club; and Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus. Their message was both a positive one–after all we did make this largest ever climate rally in DC–and an insistent one, urging President Obama and The Congress to stand up to Big Energy and to make the climate a priority. There were calls for more civil disobedience if they did not heed our calls–there are many who plan to lay down their bodies if necessary if the Pipeline project is passed.
So, I know I don’t often share the political on this blog, but this is different. It is imperative that we all become climate activists in our own way. Your and my children depend on it. I know not everyone is able to or comfortable with going to rallies and protests. That’s okay, leave that to those who are willing. But you can become educated on the issues, write letters to the editor and write (email or call) your local and national legislatures. We have reached a tipping point and we must make sure our voices are heard over those of the big energy corporations and their mouthpieces who attempt to drown out the majority.