Over 100,000 rally for climate and clean energy action

Washington Post downplays this amazing show of support

Earth Day

In its main environmental story today —  “On climate bill, Democrats work to overcome Graham’s immigration objections” — the WashPost said:

In some ways, the problem that proponents of climate legislation face is that they’re pursuing a policy goal that is not much of a hot-button political issue. Environmental activists had a well-attended event Sunday on the Mall, with musical stars Sting and John Legend, but immigration reform advocates are likely to dwarf that turnout with dozens of rallies across the country Saturday.

Yes, the biggest single climate rally in U.S. history is dismissed by comparison with the hypothetical cumulative turnout of dozens of future rallies on immigration.  Who says the media isn’t fair?  Apparently preserving the health and well-being of countless future generations isn’t “hot-button” enough for the media to be interested [kind of an ironic phrase, considering the rally was for action of global warming].

The “problem” for the White House (and Senate Majority Leader Reid) is that if they push immigration first, they kill both bills — knowingly — and they break a long-standing (and oft-repeated) commitment to three major constituencies:  environmentalists, clean energy types (like me), and young voters.

I am not an immigration analyst, so let me quote The New Republic‘s Jonathan Chait from Friday, writing about the possibility that “Senate Democratic leaders have decided to try to put immigration reform first on the agenda”:

This strikes me as a terrible idea. First of all, climate legislation is just plain more important than immigration reform. The latter is important, but the former is dire. Given that Republicans may well take control of the House in November, and could easily hold it for a long time, this year could literally be the last chance to pass climate legislation, however watered down.

Now, I suppose I could be persuaded of the merits of this move if it seemed clear that the climate bill had little chance to pass and immigration stood a great chance to pass. But this does not seem to be the case….

It’s true that immigration splits the GOP. But it also splits the Democrats, who have a lot of members representing heavily white, working-class areas. Increasing the political salience of immigration at a time when unemployment is over 9% does not seem like a good strategy to help them. Also keep in mind that the House has already passed a climate bill, but hasn’t passed an immigration bill.

Indeed, Politico persuasively suggests that the cost of shelving climate for immigration is probably to kill both….

If this is Reid’s decision, the White House needs to come down hard on him. It’s outrageous to sacrifice a chance to make progress on the biggest single policy challenge merely to increase the reelection chances of one Senator. This episode also shows, again, why it’s a bad idea to have your Senate leader hail from a state that leans toward the opposing party.

There’s some good background on the timeline of events from Brad Johnson’s WR post, “Whisper Campaign Derails Climate Bill Rollout.”  I’ll have more to say about Graham’s role shortly.

Finally, for those who want to read about the Earth Day event in the WashPost, you have to go to the Style section, “Earth Day’s moment in the sun,” which has some great pictures, like the one above.  I’ll post more on the event when I get the videos.  Earth Day Network put the crowd over 150,000 and others gave me a similar number.

31 Responses to Over 100,000 rally for climate and clean energy action

  1. mike roddy says:

    I’ve given up on fair coverage from newspapers. Their editors seem to have followed the same instructions as screenwriter guides: “Always find a way to put conflict into the story”. For them, that can only mean people like the Post’s George Will against legitimate scientists. Their advertisers and wealthy investors are pulling the strings.

    The mainstream media, including network television, are just making themselves irrelevant with this kind of non coverage. People will increasingly go to internet resources like this one to find out what is going on.

    I won’t miss MSM. Papers kill too many trees, and anchors like Charles Gibson are becoming even more of a joke.

  2. Alan Gregory says:

    No wonder, then, that newspapers continue to lose circulation as this NY Times piece from today’s edition notes:

  3. As a child, I learned that when you are about to make a mess, it is wise to put newspapers down first.

  4. Matt Rhodes says:

    I’m curious as to why you would be critical of Juliet Eilperin and the Washington Post, considering they have been reasonably friendly to the environmental community. I understand the point you are making with regard to their classification of the turnout, but the Post is by no means the only outlet to have covered this; how did others view the numbers?

  5. paulm says:

    God, they don’t get it. Were in the midst of basically an all out emergency affecting global civilization and were sitting around having tea.

    Some more depressing human behavior… UK follows Obama’s lead to develop local oil reserves rather than aggressively pursue sustainable solutions. This is a reaction by these governments to peak oil which is here and now.

    Monbiot confronts ‘climate ministers’ on fossil fuels

  6. Bill W says:

    I think the problem with coverage is that the ralliers weren’t carrying signs. If they had looked more like an angry mob they would have gotten more coverage.

  7. substanti8 says:

    Well, this is what we get with a capitalist mass media.  The (lack of) response to climate change reveals how little ideological difference there is between the foxes and the sheepdogs.

    However, I agree with the comment by Dorothy and the comment by David Benson.
    I also agree with these EPA experts in their opposition to the Waxman-Markey bill.

  8. Why must a clean energy economy always be tied to Climate Change in some people’s minds? A perfectly good case for moving to clean, domestic energy can be made from the perspective of national security and domestic prosperity. I realized that through my volunteer efforts with the Pickens plan.

    Boone Pickens rarely mentions Climate Change or Cap and Trade. When I started blogging on the Plan website I saw that the community of supporters there was made up of a wide range of people from environmentalists to pretty right wing politicos. So I wrote about green energy in terms of national security, energy independence and basic free market capitalism. In doing so I soon realized that the right will get behind a clean energy economy just as quickly as the left when it is presented in terms that resonate with their beliefs.

    Climate Change has indeed been made into a “hot button” topic and as such it stands in the way of any real progress being made. I think that mainstream America needs to understand that clean energy is good for America, good for our economy, good for our future no matter what anyone thinks of Climate Change. If we get to that point again I think we can move forward once more.

  9. prokaryote says:

    Mike that’s true. Key media people are not much concerned – but this is about to change. Just look at the uptake of natural phenomenon and how this threatens everybody’s buisness as usal.

    We have reached a critical mass, currently only hindered by the threat of old habits and technologies. Those who adapt will be the new key figures of the 21st century. Survival of the fittest ( Darwin meant it as a metaphor for “better adapted for immediate, local environment” ).

    Since the industrial revolution up till today we changed the stable state of the environment, where the term survival of the fittest means now to adapt to the local environment and preserve it’s state from a global perspective – to prevent further climate imbalance and the risc of civilization breakdown.

    If we do not act accordingly we likely end up with a diffrent climate state. The goal is to preserve the equilibrium climate state we had during the begin of the holocene. Human impacts on our habitat – earth ecosystem’s has become to strong. And cleaning up this mess is the greatest task in human history.

    And that’s why we need comprehensive climate bill’s, worldwide.

  10. Mark Shapiro says:

    WaPo had weak coverage of Sunday’s climate rally?

    The New York Times had none. None at all.

  11. fj2 says:

    The New York Times had coverage but it’s necessary to dig for it.

    Very bad form.

  12. substanti8 says:

    For what it’s worth, I noticed this morning that the Washington Post is on the same city block as the American Chemical Society.  I wonder what the odds are that anyone from the Post ever bothered to walk around the block and pick up a copy of the ACS Public Policy Statement on Global Climate Change, updated in January 2010.  The statement is outstanding and does not mince words:

    “The effects of projected unmitigated climate change on key Earth system components, ecological systems and human society over the next fifty years will be profound and, quite possibly, irreversible (IPCC, 2007).  Higher surface temperatures will severely impact many land-based life forms, damaging vulnerable ecosystems and endangering key plant and animal species.  Sea level is rising and the ocean is acidifying; the first threatens coastal habitations and ecosystems, the second will have profound effects on marine ecosystems.  Snowfall and snowmelt patterns are changing and rainfall patterns may also be unstable, threatening fresh water supplies in vulnerable regions.  Increases in severe weather events are very likely, with increasing damage due to floods, drought, and heat waves.  We are, in effect, in the midst of a vast experiment with the Earth’s climate – with uncertain, but likely quite unpleasant, outcomes.”  [emphasis added]

    Among their many recommendations:

    “The U.S. should immediately adopt nationwide goals for rapid and deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and develop effective economic drivers to achieve these goals.  Options such as emission cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, or emissions taxes need to be devised, tested and implemented on a national basis.”

    What part of “immediately” do the Washington Post editors not grasp??

  13. fj2 says:

    “Thousands Gather on the Mall For Earth Day” — Green Blog

  14. SecularAnimist says:

    Mike Johnston wrote: “Boone Pickens rarely mentions Climate Change or Cap and Trade.”

    Of course he doesn’t — because he wants to INCREASE the use of fossil fuels.

  15. Jeff Huggins says:

    I Was There (a mini report), and The Washington Post, and Some Very Dedicated Folks, and A Poetic Polar Bear, and Bob Weir playing “Ripple”, and and and and …

    I too am dramatically disappointed in The Post’s coverage of the event, with one exception, and at least (it must be said) The Post covered the event: The New York Times doesn’t even mention the event in today’s paper, as far as I can tell.

    The exception: Bravo to The Post (and to Roger, Susan, and Geneva) for the photo on Page C1.

    Yes, it’s a small world. It was only Thursday, on actual Earth Day, that Roger, Susan, Geneva, and a few others held a permitted event in front of the White House, with the Earth Ball and polar bear suit and all. Bravo to Roger and Susan and GWEN! Then, it was Thursday evening, after that event, that Joe — yes, Joe Romm himself — kindly joined us for dinner before going on national TV. And now, only several days later, Geneva and the Earth Ball and the polar bear suit, and Susan and the coal plant suit, and Roger, are in living color in a photo in The Washington Post.

    But back to the poor coverage: The lineup of speakers was AMAZING, and each gave a very sincere and informative talk. My goodness: World-renowned (and courageous) scientists, literary giants, dedicated labor leaders, leading activists, international politicians, key leaders within the government, Robert Kennedy Jr., spiritual leaders, and on and on. Amazing. And hardly any of them were even mentioned in The Post?!

    I’d buy a book, tomorrow, if it contained the transcripts of each and every talk. The speakers were amazing. All of humankind should pay attention to their words!

    (One tip to the organizers: Please ask the sound folks to NOT do sound checks — of drums, microphones, guitars, and etc. — in preparation for the next band, while the most conscientious scientists and spiritual leaders on the planet are trying to give their heart-felt words to the public! It gets deeply frustrating when someone is banging on the drums while folks like James Hansen and etc. are trying to speak.)

    On an amazingly good note: Bob Weir sang “Ripple”! What more can I say??

    (Well, a bit …)

    That Polar Bear — who was also a Polar Bear on Thursday at the event in front of the White House — is the most poetic and energetic Polar Bear one can imagine. She writes great and relevant poetry — (they call it something else these days, but to me it’s rhythmic poetry) — and expresses the youthful energy that the world needs now!

    Yes, as we know, the world needs that youthful energy NOW!

    Joe, I really do suggest that you get your hands on Geneva’s (the Polar Bear’s) poetry and run it in a guest piece. She is a GREAT example of the human energy and concern and creativity and “don’t stand for inaction!” that the youthful generations should be expressing — in the tens of millions.

    Well, that’s my own mini-report on the event, for now. I do hope that someone publishes (on the web at least) the comments from all the GREAT speakers — and thanks to those speakers for coming!!

    (I may add a few comments, later, about a few things: Although I loudly applaud James Cameron for his views and time and passionate efforts, I may offer a question or concern about the fact that he makes money for Fox and thus for NewsCorp. And, did he ever actually introduce his wife?? It’s usually a great idea to introduce your wife if she accompanies you to the podium. Also, if that was a person from P&G at the event, reiterating the important point about washing clothes in cold water, and sending P&G’s best wishes to the crowd, I’d like to ask him whether P&G has stopped advertising in all media owned by NewsCorp. So, if time allows, I’ll raise some concerns about what I think I saw and heard yesterday, for what they’re worth.)

    Be Well,


    [JR: Get me a YouTube!]

  16. Chris Dudley says:

    Mike (#8),

    Climate change is the reason for urgency. Were it not for greenhouse gases, we might be working on mercury from coal and better mining practices. Remember that renewable energy got its start as an energy independence thing. We could let that just move forward on an economic timescale, gradually replacing fossil fuels as it became the most economic method of replacing old generation. It is climate change that requires us to cut fossil fuel use, not just make it cleaner. It may well be that closing coal plants before they have paid for themselves will cost less in the long run regardless of avoided adaptation costs, but that is not how utilities would typically treat sunk costs. Climate legislation can force that. It will very likely cost less in the long run to shift to electric transportation as quickly as possible even though people won’t always appreciate paying for the early battery models. Stronger CAFE standards can force that. But, without California’s climate push, we would still see stagnated standards. Shifting to renewables is inevitable because they have a higher ratio of energy returned-to-energy invested than anything else and everything else will run out. But that shift does not have to come quickly even if it would bring more prosperity if it did. Without climate change as an issue, you would see even stronger resistance from the auto and fossil fuel industries that you do now.

  17. Prakosh says:

    Amazing, they don’t cover 100,000 people assembling from the left or on a leftist cause but if three hundred teabaggers show up they report like it was 100,000 and talk about how they are taking their country back. The mainstream media in this country has a definite right wing agenda, always have had, always will. This is the reason why we can’t end war, defuse the military industrial complex, reform the health insurance system, obtain systemic financial reform or get any of the other changes that many in this country demand. And in spite of these kinds of systemic mainstream media boycotts and dismissals of the left people in this country actually have the nerve to talk about the control of the media in other places and tout our freedom of the press.

    Freedom of the press only counts if you are actually reporting something that angers the power that be, not if you are licking the boots of the powers that be. That isn’t freedom of the press that is control of the press. At least those in other places know that they have state controlled media, we are sold a lie and treated like we are too stupid to know any better. If advertisers are angered by a story that story must be minimized, downplayed, degraded or denigrated.

  18. Stuart says:

    By Tea Party math that looks like about 10 million people.

  19. CalBoomer says:

    No one carried signs ? Well, maybe the environmental folks didn’t want to look like “Tea Baggers”. That said, if the Tea Bag Party were to show up anywhere in any amount, FOX news would have some sponsorship in it. That would have forced ABC to come out as well.

    On a similar note, I am a member of several environmental groups – Sierra, UCS, NRDC CBD and had no notice anyone was doing anything this weekend.

    Who were these people ?

  20. If the Tea Party had more music, would the WaPo coverage of their rallies be concert reviews, too?

  21. Ben Lieberman says:

    The lack of coverage is scandalous. The Tea Party has been getting months of exhaustive coverage by virtually all media outlets.
    What will it take to get even equivalent coverage or even half the coverage for rallies to combat climate change?

  22. Wit's End says:

    Many years ago, I became for the first time deeply involved in politics, for the Nuclear Freeze movement in response to Reagan’s “Star Wars.” I was pregnant with my first child when the Three Mile Island accident occurred, and I was scared to death about nuclear weapons, waste, and power plant leaks.

    Reagan came to Whitehouse New Jersey for a rally, an obscure little town with a name he liked. My fellow activists and I sat in the center of the bleachers, politely and quietly hoisting our big banner. When I got home in the evening, I tuned into the news and sure enough, there was coverage of the event. The camera panned across the spectators, abruptly stopped when it got to our banner, and resumed on the other side.

    I got a pretty good idea then of what whores the mainstream media are. And this new book reminds me that the concerns back then about nuclear weapons and energy were not misplaced. It is shocking:

  23. Raleigh Latham says:

    This rally was amazing to watch, and seeing Joe speak was the high point, but unfortunately, the only thing the media understands is scandal and violence, which means there might need to be a few windows smashed to get the message out.

  24. Jeff Huggins says:

    Earth Day Polar Bear Rap

    Joe and others, yes, Wit’s End has provided (at the link in her Comment 22) the YouTube of the Earth Day Polar Bear Rap. Indeed, the Polar Bear delivered this rap on the genuine Earth Day in the park right in front of the genuine White House, with great genuine-ness, all in accordance with a genuine seven-page permit that was obtained by the very genuine GWEN organization.

    And as we have now all (hopefully) seen, the very same Polar Bear (and friends, with the Earth Ball) was captured in a great photo in the Washington Post today, in a picture from Sunday’s event. Indeed, this is the most talented, poetic, famous, walking-talking-rapping Polar Bear the world has likely ever seen. She probably can’t catch fish with her bare hands, but she has a vital message to convey!

    What I think is great — in addition to the poetry and delivery — is this example of the youthful energy, leadership, and courage demonstrated by this Polar Bear Person. Imagine this: She came from another State. She wrote raps and poetic expressions of concern and hope. She demonstrated and performed in front of the White House, and then again on The Mall on Sunday. She is joining one of the ongoing climate organizations.

    I think that the media should give genuine youth a platform to speak out, to insist on their rights, and to remind us of the future and of what life is about. I, for one, am tired of the arguing talking heads on TV who, more often than not, entangle themselves in the political game-playing and staged ideological argumentation. Let’s have freshness and genuine-ness, not phoney-ness (spelling?) and politicalness, or whatever.

    Anyhow, that’s it for now.



  25. John says:

    Maybe if they’d held up poorly spelled signs challenging Obama’s legitimacy the media might have taken notice.

    Sadly, people protesting for clean energy just isn’t controversial enough.

  26. Per #27:

    (At which point, I am almost overstepping appropriate bounds … )

  27. Roger says:

    Jeff (16 & 26), Wit’s End (22), Geneva, Susan, Tom & Kerri, Shaw, and etc., A HUGE thank you for your thoughtful and kind support of GWEN’s Earth Day Citizens’ Climate Congress in front of the White House on the 22nd. Jeff deserves special recognition for coming to DC from afar, not to mention the others who came from MA, NJ and elsewhere!

    Yes, Geneva did her generation proud with her rap, and with the chants she wrote for our rally, urging President Obama to inform and lead millions of misinformed Americans about the very real, vital and urgent risks and opportunities associated with climate change. My favorite three Geneva climate chants, good for all occassions, are:

    Hey Obama, lead the nation
    Give us climate education!

    Climate change, hey it’s a fact
    Get up–Speak Out!–it’s time to act!

    We’re sick and tired of corporate greed
    Come on, Obama, it’s time to lead!

    Now we need to get 100,000 youth, or more, to chant these chants at Obama’s door!

  28. johnnyboy says:

    If it had been two dozen “Teabaggers” it would have been front page news. The corporate media only prints what’s good for corporate America.

  29. DanMingo says:

    This is a reaction by these governments to peak oil which is here and now.

    Peak oil is a theory, as is abiotic oil. Nobody knows if either is true.