It’s pre-dawn on the Jersey Turnpike. A torrential downpour has turned it into a river. The unrelenting storm is complete with constant, menacing flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder. In the days prior, it has already wreaked havoc and destruction across the Midwest as the driving force behind a rash of tornadoes. By midday in D.C., the temperature has climbed all the way to 91ºF. It is still April.
These extreme weather events could not have been more ironically timed, as CCE came together with over 200,000 people from all over the country - lead by indigenous people from all over the world - to march for action on our changing climate. The unseasonable heat punctuated the urgent message each one of us was there to deliver directly to the White House: “Climate Change is upon us and there is no more time to waste!”
This is fact. Fifteen of the sixteen hottest years on record occurred between 2000 and 2016. Data collected from the polar regions tells us they are warming even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists have studied fossilized life forms and Antarctic ice cores to determine that the speed at which the Earth is warming is happening much, much faster than ever before.
Sea level rise threatens coastal communities, ocean acidification and warming ocean temperatures imperil marine organisms of all types and have already contributed to the impending death of the Great Barrier Reef. Desertification is reducing the amount of arable land available to feed our exploding population. Unpredictable weather patterns are leading to water shortages and crop failures.
All of that can – and must – change.
But, the People’s Climate Movement is in fact more than a movement for the climate. Indeed, one of the slogans for the march proclaimed it was for “Climate, Jobs, and Justice.” Transitioning to renewable energy offers solutions not just for climate change, but also for a range of economic and social issues facing our country. Over 900 different organizations came together for the march. Among them were labor unions, groups concerned with water and air quality protection, and even coal mining communities who were there to advocate for a ‘just transition’ to renewables for the workers in their hometowns. Moving our country forward toward energy independence, toward leadership in innovation and economic prosperity, toward keeping our air safe to breathe and our water safe to drink, can only happen by embracing the renewable energy future.
The good news? It’s already happening. Deepwater Wind flipped the switch on the first offshore wind farm in America this week, providing 100% of the power for Block Island, Rhode Island and replacing noisy, polluting, diesel-burning generators with its five turbines a few miles out.
The best part? It will not be the last. Advances in solar and wind technology have made them cost-competitive against fossil fuel generation. That means we don’t have to choose between clean energy and cheap energy. We have reached the point whence they have become one in the same!
We pay tremendously with our dollars, our health, and our environment to keep fossil fuels on life support. It needs to end now. We must demand it – for the Climate, Jobs, and Justice we all deserve.
The march was a great start. It was an absolute inspiration to see so many doing exactly what needs to be done; standing up, showing up, and speaking up for our energy policies to work in the best interest of everyone. We must continue to demand it because (as one sign read) “Silence is Compliance”. We have finally arrived at the precipice of a paradigm shift away from filthy fossil fuels. We have the technology and the capability to make it happen. Exercise your rights to the fullest! Protests. Letters. Petitions. Phone Calls. ‘This is what De-mo-cra-cy looks like!’
Some quotes spotted on signs at the march:
“CLIMATE JUSTICE IS A MORAL IMPERATIVE”
“THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR PLANET IS THE BELIEF THAT SOMEONE ELSE WILL SAVE IT”
“WE ALL NEED CLEAN AIR, WATER”
“RESPECT EXISTENCE OR EXPECT RESISTANCE”
“GREEN ENERGY --> 5 TIMES MORE JOBS THAN COAL”