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Get up and rally for the environment!

The People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st is expected to be the largest climate mobilization effort in history

I like to think I’m a fairly trusting person. If the City of Boston passed an executive order on climate action in 2007 and is already making plans for municipal preparedness, it probably means that the climate crisis is real. And if the climate crisis is real, we are living in stranger times than I realized.

For instance, this: a few days ago, two goofy old Greenpeace activists went to court in Massachusetts for blocking a coal barge with a lobster boat. It was a gesture made with the predictably unlawful (and possibly unwashed) flair that environmental activists have always been famous for. They were planning to use a “necessity defense” – to argue that disrupting the coal shipment was necessary for the sake of humanity. They were facing charges that carried two-year sentences.

To the shock of the country, the Bristol District Attorney made a dramatic court appearance and dropped the charges. The activists went home with fines. Here is DA Sutter, as quoted by the New York Times:

“I have a duty to go forward to some extent with this case and to follow the applicable case law, but they were looking for  a forum to present their very compelling case about climate change…I do believe they’re right, that we’re at a crisis point with climate change.”

Striding the crowd with a copy of an article by climate activist Bill McKibben, Sutter then announced that that he’ll be joining the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st, a climate mobilization expected to be the largest in history.

He will be in the company of the NAACP, the American Nurses Association, and a passle of other organizations that, frankly, probably have way better things to do than worry about the future of polar bears.

Why are nurses, congregations, community leaders, and crowds of the formerly ambivalent all riding buses this month to yell in the streets of Manhattan?

Because climate action, to be clear, is about the rights of people: people who want stable economies, a functional agricultural system, and coastal cities that don’t flood. Things that most people want.

I can’t really say I want to go – it will be loud and obnoxious. Tired slogans will be chanted, the media will flutter, and the United Nations Climate Conference will probably just proceed in its smooth glass buildings, as all the great climate conferences (in Copenhagan, Durban, Warsaw), have proceeded before.  

The dour consensus documents of our global science community will be shared; expert opinions will be stated on the droughts, displacements, disasters, and economic destruction we can expect in our century if nothing is done; nations will re-inscribe their agreement that a 2-degree average global temperature increase is the greatest change that can be borne; no actionable agreements will be made.

We will still ride home with what we came for. We will have gained the courage that comes from showing our numbers, claiming our alliances, and gaining real proof that something is growing – something to replace the vague worried feeling that tells us the good times can’t last, something to replace the policy gridlock of leaders working for us and against us. Change is coming before we’re old – change is already here. The type of change will be up to us.

Am I spouting platitudes yet? I’m not sorry. We don’t have any more time to indulge our cynicisms, our pettiness, our allergic feelings towards crowds of people moving with a serious common purpose. March in the same spirit with which you’d sing a birthday song for a child. Who could be so small of heart, to fail in doing something ordinary and important just because it feels kind of silly? If nurses and district attorneys can do it, so can you.

People’s Climate March, September 21st, in New York City.  Happy birthday to us all. With the work we have ahead of us, we need all the cake we can get.