I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the so-called People’s Climate March. It has been on my mind for months. Since the very first moment that I heard this idea proposed I asked myself one simple question: Why? That question was almost immediately followed by one thought that has stuck with me ever since: this march is an absolutely and utterly horrible idea. This march, without any goals or being part of a long term strategy seems like nothing more than a giant climate parade. (Or perhaps charade is more accurate.) As the event draws closer I’ve spent more and more time debating whether or not to attend. I went to sleep last night considering that question and I woke up this morning with the march on my mind. The frustration is maddening.
Anyone that knows me all knows that I’ve spent almost my entire adult life as environmental organizer and activist. The vast majority of those efforts have been directly under the climate umbrella. The list of my activities and accomplishments in the (so-called) climate movement is extensive and spans more than a decade. I’ve been to countless climate related events including just about every major rally or gathering. I was arrested outside of the White House protesting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. I’ve been recognized on the state and local level for my organizing efforts. On the personal level, I make every reasonable attempt to lower my own carbon footprint. All this is to say, no one can claim that I’m not committed to doing everything that I can to help stop the climate crisis.
Bill McKibben and his crew from Middlebury College, now known as 350.org, are one of the driving forces behind the People’s Climate March. Since their inception as the Sunday Night Group at Middlebury they have been calling for larger and larger climate events. Examples include Step It Up in 2007, the International Day of Climate Action in 2009, the Global Work Party in 2010, Moving Planet in 2011, Climate Impacts Day in 2012, and the Forward on Climate rally last year. Of course, most of these events have other groups and organizations involved, but 350 can largely take the credit for all of them. The thing is, I firmly believe that none of these events have really brought us any closer as a nation to taking action on climate. Despite the attempts of 350, mountains and communities in Appalachia are still being destroyed for coal; fracking is on the rise across the country; offshore drilling for petroleum is poised to explode from Delaware to Florida; tar sands extraction is still wreaking havoc in Canada and is on the verge of spreading into the United States; we have not really come anywhere near national climate legislation and the international climate negotiations are a joke. The point is, even with the immeasurable amount of time, energy, resources, and money that have have gone into organizing all these events, greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing and the effects of the climate crisis are growing.
One of the very first things I learned as an organizer is that an event is not a goal; events are supposed to help reach an already defined goal. In other words, organizing an event that is not part of a comprehensive strategy to reach a clearly defined and measurable goal is virtually meaningless. As such, bringing thousands of people to New York City to march and chant because they care about the climate crisis is likely to do almost nothing whatsoever because there is, by design, absolutely no stated strategy behind this march. Paraphrasing an astute line from Jurassic Park, it seems as though the 350.org folks and their partners have spent so much time worrying about whether or not they could (get a bunch of people in the same place at the same time) they never stopped to think about whether or not they should.
I’ve been part of what serves as the climate movement since its inception and at this point I’m absolutely certain that what we need is comprehensive climate legislation at the federal level (and, by extension, an international climate agreement). That alone won’t solve the problem (or give us climate justice) but without it we have no reasonable chance. I don’t really doubt that the 350 folks or any of the organizations endorsing the People’s Climate March are committed to helping to solve stop the climate crisis (although their commitment to climate justice often comes into question). I do, however, have serious doubts that any of their current actions are helping to get us where we need to be. Until we have an actual, unified climate movement fighting to address the climate as a country, events like the People’s Climate March will be little more than expensive, wasteful exercises in futility. 350.org has the potential to be a leader in that fight but until they start thinking and acting strategically, I urge everyone that cares at all about the climate to think twice about participating in events like the People’s Climate March.
Read more here: Like a Dull Knife: The People’s Climate “Farce”
My priorities are improving job growth through ramping up the state’s clean energy economy, improving education for all of our children and young people, and stabilizing taxes for low and middle income families. In the coming weeks I’ll post more specific information on each of these priorities as well on other issues relevant to this race. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to know my thoughts on an issue, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just comment on this post.
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