Denis Hayes explains why you should come to the “largest climate rally ever” on the DC Mall April 25

Come hear everyone from James Hansen to James Cameron, from Sting to me. Let’s show the Tea Partiers what a real crowd looks like.

Earth Day Network is organizing a huge event on the Mall in Washington DC on April 25. The goal is to demand tough, effective climate legislation and a swift transition away from 19th century energy sources.

“So what?” you may be asking yourself. There have been a lot of climate rallies over the last 25 years and Congress still hasn’t managed to pass a law. Why should I come to this one?

Let me count the ways….

Our guest blogger today is the legendary Denis Hayes, national coordinator for the first Earth Day in 1970.

Hayes was director of the federal Solar Energy Research Institute (1979 to 1981) and is now president of the Bullitt Foundation and international chair of Earth Day 2010.

You can get all the information you want about the Sunday rally — as well as other actions you can take — by clicking on the Earth Day Network website.

In general, I haven’t been someone who pushes rallies.  But the Tea Partiers have gotten an absurd amount of media attention for relatively tiny rallies.  Back in September, they claimed they had a million attendees at a DC rally that in fact had perhaps 60,000 to 70,000.  Remember that overhyped Tea Party rally in DC last week where they ludicrously asked The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley to speak (see “Irony-gate 2: Modern day Tea Partiers outsource denial to Lord Monckton “” a British peer!“)?  The speakers claimed they had 25,000 attendees, but even the Wall Street Journal reported, “we estimate that the number was less than half of that, at best.”

This Sunday, let’s leave those numbers in the dust.  Here’s Hayes on all the reasons that you should come:


Past climate rallies have generally run from a few dozen people to a couple thousand. On Sunday, April 25, energy and climate activists from New England to the Carolinas will gather together to find new friends and allies at largest climate rally ever. We are coming together to move beyond education; to demand change; and to make it clear there will be political consequences of Congress doesn’t act.

Inspiration and Direction.

You will hear from:
Climate scientists like James Hansen, and Stephen Schneider.
EPA chief (and heroine!) Lisa Jackson & CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley
Cultural leaders like James Cameron (Avatar; Titanic) and Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale; The Blind Assassin)
Top business executives from Siemens, Phillips, UL, Future Friendly & SunEdison
Top labor leaders, including the President of the AFL-CIO and Secretary of the SEIU.
Progressive activists, including Jesse Jackson, Lydia Camarillo, & Hilary Shelton
Climate policy gurus like Joe Romm, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, & Rafael Fantauzzi
Spiritual leaders, including Rev. Theresa Thames, Rev. Richard Cizik, & Rabbi Warren Stone
Athletes like Dhani Jones, Aaron Peirsol, & Billy Demong
Environmentalists like Bobby Kennedy & Phillipe Cousteau


In between the speakers we will hear from some of the most committed artists in the nation, including Sting, John Legend, The Roots, Willie Colon, Passion Pit, Bob Weir, Jimmy Cliff, Joss Stone, Booker T, The Honor Society, Mavis Staples…


In 1970, I told huge Earth Day crowds in Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York: “We won’t appeal anymore to the conscience of institutions because institutions have no conscience. If we want them to do what is right, we must make them do what is right. We will use proxy fights, lawsuits, demonstration, research, boycotts, and””above all””ballots…. If we let this become just a fad, it will be our last fad.”

Earth Day organizers created a Dirty Dozen campaign that made “the environment” a voting issue in the 1970 elections. One of the seven Congressmen we defeated that fall was George Fallon, chairman of the House Public Works Committee: the “pork” committee. THAT got their attention. If Chairman Fallon was vulnerable, everyone in politics was vulnerable.

Over the next three years, despite fierce opposition from the most powerful vested interests in the land, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a half-dozen other far-reaching laws that have utterly transformed the way America does business.

Now we must do it again.

What Is The Goal?

Humanity must swiftly abandon dirty energy sources and switch to safe, clean, decentralized, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal. The world, led by America, must abandon the appallingly inefficient way it uses energy and swiftly embrace the most efficient new housing, transport, and industrial processes that exist. We Americans must slash our politically risky and economically catastrophic dependence on the oil wealth of nations that don’t like us very much.

A necessary””though not sufficient””common denominator is to establish a price on carbon that reflects the costs of climate disruption, blowing the tops off mountains, and acidifying the world’s oceans. We must place a firm cap with no loopholes on the amount of carbon fuels we consume each year and ratchet that cap down at a prescribed rate every year in the future until we hit something very close to zero.

Only a federal law can accomplish this goal.

If this were easy, we would have begun a quarter century ago. The junk science, climate-denying interest groups are rich, powerful, and ruthless. But sooner or later they will lose.

Sooner is better

They will lose for the same reason that IBM and Control Data lost to Microsoft, Apple and Dell. They will lose for the same reason that Ma Bell””the most powerful monopoly in the world””lost to cellular upstarts and Internet-telephony. They lost because their thinking was anchored in the past instead of envisioning the future

The junk science, climate-disruption-denying interest groups will lose because 19th century answers won’t solve 21st century problems.

Come to the Mall

At some point, this climate-disrupting madness has to start to stop. Come to the Mall between the Capitol Building and the White House on Sunday, April 25. Bring your spouse, your parents, your kids, your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, your congregation, your bowling league. Vote with your bodies on April 25th at the largest climate rally ever.

And put our political leaders on notice that you will vote with your ballot a few months later!

Come to the mall.  Let’s show the Tea Partiers and the media and the general public what a real crowd looks like.  And I promise I won’t give a policy wonk speech!

26 Responses to Denis Hayes explains why you should come to the “largest climate rally ever” on the DC Mall April 25

  1. Raleigh Latham says:

    :O Damn, I wish I could be there for that, but I’m in Oregon keeping up the good fight.

  2. Peter Bellin says:

    Yeah, a trip to DC from CA would not fulfill my attempts to keep my footprint small.

    Perhaps a virtualp articipation by emailing by (supportive) Federal representatives.

  3. Drew Jones says:

    Joe — Give someone your Flip and get ’em up close to record your speech. I’ll miss it in person but would love to watch in on CP!!!!
    — Drew

  4. Mark S says:

    I agree with Peter, for those of us who cannot be there call or email your Senators and House member and let them know of your support. I’ve worked in the congressional offices and even thought times have changed from when I was there I know that calling and emailing do in fact count in the congressional offices.

  5. Kota says:

    Really. I wish! If someone could have gotten the word out sooner and organized it, we at home could have cut life size silhouettes of ourselves out of old cloth, put our names and states on them + whatever we wanted to say and mailed them in to a central place. Attached hand to hand together, I’ll bet they would have stretched for a loooooong way.

  6. Joe1347 says:

    Direct link to the rally web site. Starts at 11am on the 25th.

    Joe, do you know yet what time you’ll be speaking – or if there’s a more detailed agenda out yet?

  7. Ivy Bear says:

    Lots of Democratic party operatives, but absolutely no grass roots leaders. Missing: Bill McKibben, Mike Rozelle, etc. This looks like a top down effort paid for by the White House. I’m told that the bus caravans were organized and paid for out of the White House. So this has all the authenticity of a tea party organized by Dick Armey and Fox News.

  8. Tom C says:

    The environmental movement has much deeper grassroots than the tea party regardless of who is and isn’t speaking at this event.

    We’ve got a chance to get something accomplished before the next elections and all who can make it out this Sunday should be there. I live in DC and I’ll be walking down to the mall myself!

  9. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Dennis –
    thanks for this rousing necessary post.

    It’s my hope that the ethics of the need for commensurate action will get a really cogent delivery broadcast from the stage on the day –
    maybe I’m biased by a British liberal upbringing, but the long-hyped mercenary/self-interest motivations for the conservation of the ecology (which of course includes people) seem to me only as durable as the absence of a yet more profitable consumption option. By contrast, the potent ethics of the climate issue are practically virgin territory.

    In particular, it seems certain that few Americans would wish America to go down in history as having had lead responsibility at the height of its power for manifesting the greatest genocide by serial famines that the world has ever seen.
    Yet equally few Americans seem to have got around to considering this central predictable consequence of “The American Way of Life”. It is well past time they, like other major nationalities mimicking such folly, were brought to face this reality.

    Another aspect which I’d dearly like to hear described to the assembly (but am less sanguine of the chances owing to its radical and somewhat technical nature) is the necessary strategy following the closure of the window of opportunity of resolving global warming solely by suppressing global GHG outputs. [WOP I].

    While there are several variables, the calculation of how that window is now closed is fairly simple. Given the ~35yr time lag for emissions’ warming potential to take effect, we are ‘aspiring’ internationally to a global 50% output cut off 1990 by 2050 that would not take full effect until 2085.
    Then there is also the remainder of our emissions from 2050 on that is not taken up by the declining natural carbon sinks – without any further decline of them the remainder of around 17% would be added to the atmosphere year on year, thus continuing to exacerbate the warming even after 2085.
    Meanwhile, the feedbacks are evidently already gaining momentum and are advancing, exponentially, year on year toward the point where they would swamp the natural carbon sinks, probably putting mitigation beyond any human capacity.

    While sufficient airborne carbon could be recovered by means of a global program of afforestation to restore pre-industrial levels late this century (specifically by a gigahectare of native coppice forestry on non-farmland optimised for biochar, sylvi-biofuels and biodiversity)
    and while this commitment is as necessary for reversing marine acidification as it is for ending global warming,
    it seems clear that several decades’ development will be needed for it to begin having a significant effect on airborne CO2 ppmv.

    Given that we face around 35 years of warming ‘in the pipeline’, reflecting the rise in pollution flows from 1975 to 2010, and that the same timelag applies to the afforestation’s early effect on airborne CO2ppmv (say 2040+35 = 2075), the forestry program is demonstrably a necessary commitment but it too is no longer a sufficient option to provide a timely control of the feedbacks. That was the second window of opportunity that has now closed. [WOP II].

    Just the present worldwide advance of forest dieback and predicable wildfire (a million acres already in British Columbia alone), let alone the arctic methane flows and loss of ice and snow cover, indicate a pretty short third and final window for intervention, [WOP III], assuming the point of no return is somewhat before a ~2.5 GTC/yr-equivalent output by the interactive feedbacks that swamps the sinks.

    Advancing the international ‘aspiration’ to a far more radical 98% off 1990 by 2034 does not resolve the tardiness issue. The pipeline warming will still be growing until 2045, and, presumably, the sinks are likely to continue their decline (not accounted herein), while our GHG outputs would continue to add to airborne stocks until around 2026 (with luck the remaining 33% being taken by the sinks). This implies peaking the warming from airborne anthro-CO2 somewhere around 2061, (2026+35). The 98% cut would then take effect around 2069, (having left the remaining sinks to help to cleanse the atmosphere after an anthro-CO2 peak in 2034, at up to 1.0ppmv of CO2 average per year).

    This would allow the feedbacks continued warming for unfettered acceleration for 40 to 50 years – which is patently untenable.

    Therefore, while a global afforestation program is a necessary condition for viable strategy, its essential complement is the sufficient condition of controlling global temperature intentionally, by the most sustainable means of albido enhancement available, until the atmosphere is restored to its natural condition late this century. (The proposed fleet of spray-lofting trimarans has my vote as it has yet to generate any cogent published critique decrying sea-trials).

    As I said, this aspect of strategic assessment is both radical and somewhat technical. Yet it would be a tremendous advance if the assembly could hear a lucid outline of the closure of the first window, i.e. that the climate issue can no longer be resolved simply by cutting GHG outputs, however fast it were done. Historical emissions have to be recovered – and if not by those who put them there then by whom ?
    (As a fine old ballad put it: “I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage . . .”).

    I should add that maybe there is some valid refutation of part, parts or all of the analysis above, in which case I’d be very glad to hear it, and thereby avoid campaigning for such a comprehensive strategy alongside steadfast efforts for the Treaty of the Atmospheric Commons.

    If I weren’t running a hill farm in the Cambrian mountains of Wales, I’d be with you in the flesh, as well as in spirit.

    Hoping you can mobilize a myriad of young people (as well as their elders), and wishing you the best of luck on the day,



  10. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    PS My apologies for using a technical acronym without stating its meaning.

    ‘WOP’ stands for ‘Window of Precaution’, since strategic action on climate destabilization is precautionary to avoid forecast potentially catastrophic future conditions.

  11. Nick Palmer says:

    Joe – take the opportunity to hold Monckton, Carter and Watts, and the rest of the public face of the denial machine, up to public ridicule.

    Somebody needs to grandstand the irrationality of their obfuscatory pseudo logic in the full glare of the world publicity and I can’t think of anyone with a better style or substance of attack than you.

  12. Nick Palmer says:

    Should have been:
    “pseudo-logic in the full glare of the world’s publicity”

  13. Daniel says:

    Join the Green Tea Party on the National Mall. April 25…11 am

  14. Dennis says:

    I’ll Be there!

  15. Ivy Bear says:

    Tom C and all:
    I agree that the environmental movement has much deeper grass roots than the tea party folks. But where are they in this program? Couldn’t the White House figure out that putting no grass roots environmental leader on the program would make this look like it is controlled by Rom Emmanuel? This is bad strategy.

  16. Brooks Bridges says:

    To All: When I just RSVP’d I saw there are currently 2,127 RSVP’s at

    It would seem A Good Thing for publicity for all planning to attend to raise the number.

    Also: Is there any way to get Climate Progress readers to try to go to a common area? Be great to meet some of you in person.

    Ivy Bear: I request you substantiate your statements beyond “I’m told”. One wonders: by whom?.

    The earthday site shows they have a number of major business/corporate sponsors and actively solicit contributions from all visiting the site.

  17. mike roddy says:

    Inspiring words, Denis, thank you. This event is timely and badly needed. I remember the Dirty Dozen, and think this should be revived specifically for coal plant supporters.

    We’ll be installing hotel keycard energy saving systems (like the whole world uses) in Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth next week, which will be a small start here.

    I’m also strategizing with people in academia and industry to figure out ways to allow the NW forests to sequester carbon again. Jerry Franklin told me that these forests are now sequestering about 25-30% of historical capacity. This opportunity to increase sinks is huge, and doable, since carbon income could exceed that from liquidation when even minimum carbon pricing is established.

    Let’s talk when you get back to Seattle.

  18. Ivy Bear says:

    I made a comment in reply to Brooks Bridges and it was referred to “moderation” and then never appeared. Why was my comment not posted? Was it because it was politically inconvenient?

    [JR: Your comment was hearsay based on anonymous sources. I know the folks involved and your statement has no basis in fact whatsoever. Not even close.]

  19. G says:

    Won’t be able to make it from the west coast but would LOVE to be there. This is going to be a pivotal moment in history, for better or worse. Making a donation to the earth day network, crossing my fingers that it does some good.

  20. Fire Mountain says:

    To Ivy Bear’s niggling comments about this as a White House operation, nobody is going to be more critical of current policies than Jim Hansen. He inspired Bill McKibben to start the Target 350 movement, and Mike Roselle helped him get arrested at a West Virginia coal mine. If this line-up was being directed by Rahm, I doubt very much that Hansen would be on the bill.

    And nobody has a greater climate commitment than Denis Hayes. He and the Bullitt Foundation which he leads have made the Northwest one of the seminal centers of climate action in the world.

    No niggling.

  21. Will Greene says:

    I’m going to try and make it from Arizona in my Prius. Actually do people know how long AZ to DC would take, nonstop driving?

  22. Richard Miller says:

    I think the model for getting legislation that is in line with the science is precisely what Denis Hayes is talking about when he refers to the first earth day. 20 million americans, 10% of the population at the time, protested on the streets and under Richard Nixon (not a great environmental visionary) we got the Clean Water Act, the EPA.

    I wish the environmental organizations and pro clean energy groups (Sierra Club, Repower America) and progressive groups ( would call their supporters to mass demonstrations in the major regional cities in the country.

  23. riverat says:

    Will Greene,

    MapsOnUs says it’s 2292 miles from Phoenix to DC and 33.4 hours. I’d think with necessary stops it it’d take 40 hours.

  24. drt says:

    John Tierney has an article:
    “For Earth Day, 7 New Rules to Live By” which needs some commentary.

  25. Will Greene says:

    Thanks riverat, google says 37 hours. I just reserved my zipcar…so I’m officially coming with 3 friends from Tempe AZ!! Let’s do this!!

  26. Richard Brenne says:

    Ivy Bear I’ve always appreciated your thoughtful comments, but think we really need to come together and work together as much as possible. I’d be thrilled if the White House was as behind this as you suggest (and as Joe, with what sounds like far more credible evidence, un-suggests).

    I’m a huge fan of everyone and everthing mentioned above (including all CP Commenters, as always) and support them wholeheartedly and look forward to more collaborations all the time.

    We all want basically the same things and so let’s band together to get them. The unholy alliance that has been the right for the last three decades has worked as hard as possible to thwart positive change.

    We need to out-think, out-work and out-unify them!

    Great work Denis!