People’s Climate March Recap: It Takes Everyone To Make A Change

Guest Blog | September 30, 2014 | Climate Change
Citizens take to the streets for the People's Climate March

This blog was written by SACE Communications Intern, Kelsey Adler, who went to New York to attend the march. You can read other, more general details about the event in our blog here.

One week ago yesterday, I was heading back from one of the most exciting events I have ever attended: The People’s Climate March. On Sunday, September 21st, myself and other students from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville joined the nearly 400,000 people and more than 1500 organizations who flocked to New York City to participate in what was the largest climate march in history with hopes of communicating the reality of climate change and its disastrous effects.

The rally could not have been more impactful or more timely;  later that week,  120 world leaders convened at the United Nations in New York City to discuss the problems resulting from increasing levels of carbon emissions and climate change. Marchers were joined by individuals from all over the world, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The People’s Climate March was one of 2,646 climate change events taking place that Sunday in 156 countries; all of these events were aiming to bring global attention to climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing my generation and the world.

As someone who has never participated in any sort of demonstrative march or protest, being flung into the largest climate march in history was sensory overload—in the absolute best way.

It all started around 11:30am Sunday morning. Thousands of excited marchers gathered at Central Park West wielding posters, donning costumes, waiting impatiently, ready to storm the gates and begin the two-mile route. The crowd was made up of a multitude of groups—the young, the old, mothers, grandparents, scientists, students, farmers, educators, celebrities, you name it—all pushing for a variety aspects of climate action, like supporting renewable energy, investing in organic farming, and moving away from fossil fuel dependency.

Hurricane Sandy survivors march with orange life preservers, representing communities who were displaced due to climate change

Still others were there to stand for climate justice and against environmental racism—issues that are hard to ignore, when it comes to the immediate and undeniable harm that climate change inflicts on people of the world.  Members of indigenous communities, labor unions, and representatives of immigrants and the poor descended on New York City from around the world. Several of these marchers, whose lives were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, led the crowd down Central Park West, through 6th avenue, 42nd street, and 11th avenue, finally dispersing somewhere around 34th street.

To put it simply, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I decided to make the long trek to NYC. Sure, I knew that it was going to be a great march, and I knew there would be hundreds of thousands of people. And I knew that we would all have the same understanding of the urgent need to act against climate change…but I didn’t, really.

I’ve never in my life felt the same sense of purpose, of meaning, of power, as I did on the day of the People’s Climate March. One of the most moving parts of the day came at 1:00pm, the scheduled moment of silence. The roar of the crowd was hushed in seconds, as a single voice spoke to the masses. With raised arms and vigor in our eyes, everything stopped. In unison, we lent our hearts to the people suffering at this moment from the brutal effects of climate change, and I think that it was in this moment that reality truly sunk in for me. The people are real, the damage is real… and it’s time for the Southeast to notice. Though I definitely left a part of my heart in New York City, the rest is ready to fight.

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