Climate change: finally something to get excited about

September 21, 2014

On a muggy, warm late morning at the end of an unusually cool summer, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York City to demand action on climate change.

As demonstrators swarmed out of subway stations, police officers and volunteers directed families with children in strollers, senior citizens and many young people towards the main gathering area on Central Park West.

“The science is very clear – the science actually is alarming. We have to take action now,” said Sally Ranney, co-director of the International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative (WECAN). “This march is about showing leaders who are meeting at the U.N. that we mean business and civil society really cares and wants them to take action to protect this planet.”

As the crowd slowly moved south, people wearing colourful T-shirts with slogans like “Action now, not words,” chanted: “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”

“We want to make sure the planet is safe for our child; we want him to grow up the same way our grandparents got to grow up,” said Bryan Hickel who joined the crowds with his wife and toddler.

BLOCK PARTY VIBE

A few blocks down, a group of students marched excitedly, all of them clad in bright red T-shirts that read: “To change everything we need everyone.”

“I’m a business major and I feel like the problems with businesses today is that they disregard the…impact they have on the environment and consider the profit as the main goal,” said Eli Hewitt, 18, a student at Stony Brook University in New York. “Right now we’re at a pivotal moment – we’re in the height of our energy crisis, we have no alternatives.”

Young people made up one of the largest contingents of the demonstration. Holding banners and chanting slogans, they gave the march the vibe of a large block party.

“I’m here today because it’s really important that we protect our environment,” said 14-year-old Wallis Edward as she walked with some of her peers. “This march is going to raise awareness… I think it’s going to do something.”

As parts of the city ground to an almost complete halt to allow the march to proceed, passersby leaned over police cordons to get a glimpse of the event in which barefoot dancers, a mini orchestra and parade floats rolled down NYC’s avenues.

I didn’t know about (the march) today,” said 35-year-old Ahmed, a doorman in the city, originally from Trinidad and Tobago. “I don’t know much about it but I guess it’s all good.”

A young Italian couple in New York for their honeymoon looked on attentively as the crowd moved south on Manhattan’s sixth avenue.

“I think it’s interesting and it’s nice to see people taking to the streets to voice their concern about such important matters,” said Matteo Brutti, 26, from Verona.

Photo: A protester with “One Planet” drawn on her face takes part in the “People’s Climate March” down 6th Ave. in the Manhattan borough of New York September 21, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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