March For A Solution To Climate Chaos: Sustainable, Renewable Passion

by Dominique Browning Via from Slow Love Life

Depending on who is counting, about 35,000 to 50,000 people showed up in a freezing cold and windy Washington D.C. for the largest climate march in history on Sunday, February 17.

It was one of the most inspiring events I have ever attended, and I’ve been trying to sort out why, exactly–beyond the incredible contact buzz of the crowds, the flags, the banners, the costumes.

Some terrific speeches: the head of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune (whose wife Mary — with swaddled infant — and five year old daughter looked on lovingly); our articulate, dedicated Rhode Island Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, who is heading up a bicameral task force on climate solutions; impassioned, intelligent, actress Rosaria Dawson–whose mother, Isabelle Celeste, is also a powerhouse; Tom Steyer, who, having made billions in hedge fund land, is now dedicating himself to fighting climate change. I am hoping he will be our new Energy Secretary.

So do marches matter? You bet. Here’s what this one demonstrated:

1. Sustainable, renewable passion. People care about climate change. I was struck by the range of participants–from college kids all the way up to grandparents, and lots of families with children. And people convey passion. Urgency. That’s what we need now. Urgency.

2. Marches mean being out in the open. This is in sharp contrast to the stealth tactics of deniers. You don’t see them marching. Instead, they are meticulously, cynically seeding disinformation and sowing confusion wherever they can, from the websites of major newspapers to small ones across the globe. I was struck by how little money Donor’s Trust has actually spent over the last decade on their denier campaign: $400 million. They have used it well; their impact has been outsized.

But deniers have also had the unwitting collusion of major media, in their silence–as well as the big environmental organizations, suffering from post cap ’em depression; they essentially stopped talking about climate change for years after the failure of cap and trade. That silence has cost us a great deal of progress. So now we have to move with urgency.

Note: All of us should demand of our media: stop posting denier rubbish in your comment sections — unless you note, each and every time, what is factually incorrect. Otherwise, you are participating in the disinformation campaign, and it is harming your integrity, and our democracy.

3. Marches provide political cover. Many politicians, including the president, remarkably (as you would think he is so powerful that he would simply do the right thing), are so wary of climate politics that they need to know that citizens want this issue addressed. “Show me the movement” means “give me reasons to take a tough stand.” Votes count.

4. Now, it’s personal. Extreme, unpredictable weather–a result of climate change–has touched all of our lives, across the country. This march reminds everyone: climate change is affecting people as well as polar bears.

And one final note. I was in a panic about attending this march, due to my fear of crowds. But I was reminded of something important. If you tell your friends, this is what I’m worried about, so please take care–most of the time (excepting the occasional knucklehead) they come through. I never once felt lost.

And that leads me to one of the most comforting things about this march: the sense of solidarity. If we can keep rallying the kind of energy (sustainable, renewable passion) around fighting climate change, we will have a shot at success.

Dominique Browning is the Senior Director of Moms Clean Air Force.

9 Responses to March For A Solution To Climate Chaos: Sustainable, Renewable Passion

  1. Henry says:

    I wish someone could have got more pictures of the actual crowd gathered at the monument area, possibly looking down from above, because the skeptic blogs are already downplaying the crowd count saying there was “5,000 max” at this event.
    Doesn’t anyone have anything showing the whole crowd?

  2. fj says:

    Plenty of inspiration and climate warriors here for The President to move this country to action on climate change at wartime speed.

  3. David Smith says:

    I’m an architect, not a crowd analyzed, but…

    I was there. I did my own estimate off the crowd size when I got home and thawed out. Using Google Earth I measured the area of the street that was used and separately, the area of the assembly. The assembly area could hold 64,000 people when full calculated at 6 square feet per person. I was near the stage, at the densest part. We had about 2 square feet per person. I couldn’t turn and felt like I could have lifted my feet and not fallen. Clearly other areas were a lot less dense, look at the photos. IMO, 40,000 to 50,000 seems reasonable. The results were similar when I analyzed the street part of the program. It was a lot of people. 4,000 is not even close.

    Google images; forward on climate. there are a lot to choose from…

  4. Brooks Bridges says:

    I was one of the yellow hatted marshals. At the training session the night before I did a pretty good count and got in the neighborhood of 200.

    The yellow hats were strung out the whole march along the edges keeping people off the sidewalk so assume 100 marshalls per side. I’d estimate 25 people per row and 20 rows between marshals so 500 people between marshals.

    500 people times 100 = 50,000.

    20 rows times 100 = 2000 rows total. If there was an average of 2.75 ft between rows, the march would have been roughly 5500 ft long or about a mile. Love to see some more accurate estimates.

    Please note: I didn’t work backwards from the 50,000. I first just searched my memory and tried to come up with the two estimates of number per row and rows between marshals. Extremely crude and easily off by a factor of 2 but no way by a factor of 10.

    Next time I’ll try to do some serious estimates on my own.

  5. Brooks Bridges says:

    Many of the home made posters were awesome and many were extremely clever and powerful.

    Next time I’ll try to get as many photos as possible.

    I agree with Bill McKibben – I sense a phase change/sea change, whatever.

    I was so glad to see non-environmental groups were joining in – they’re recognizing climate change is the 900 lb gorilla affecting every one’s cause.

  6. Brooks Bridges says:

    Just had another thought – Wed before the event, Sierra Club said their were buses coming in from 28 states. I know NYC alone had 5 (and could have filled more) So if you figure even 1 bus per state and 40 people per bus(a wild guess) you get at least a 1000 JUST from buses – and the number was surely higher.

    So 5000 is absurdly low – but what do expect from people who insist the planet is cooling?

    Still wondering how they’re going to spin the first ice-free Arctic Sept. I’m sure it’ll be equivalent of: “Just a flesh wound” – said the Black Knight as his arm was chopped off.

  7. David Smith says:

    Henry; I received a tweet on my feed today, from someone involved in administering the rally on Sunday, that indicated there was a situation with the park service in DC because they felt the number of people at the rally exceeded the 50,000 for which the permit was issued. That tells you something.

  8. Dick Smith says:

    We had 3 busses from our 350-Madison and Citizens Climate Lobby group, with an average of over 50 per bus.

    P.S. Brooks, thanks for your comment to Superman yesterday. I saw it too late to add a relevant reply. But, you spoke for me too.

  9. Jen Sinclair says:

    I’m a 60-something former hippie from the 60s & early 70s, and I was there also. I was disappointed in the lack of press leading up to – and reporting on – the march. Did anyone try to contact Stewart or Colbert??? These guys are THE news source for the young, and can’t afford to be ignored by their elders either. I’d like to believe that, if asked, they would have trumpeted our cause. I came from Mich., and I know we had a minimum of 3 busses from A2 and Detroit, and they were all packed (50+ per). Also, LOTS more pressure has to be applied to lawmakers on a continuing basis. Remember, we’re working against polluters with money coming out their pores; all we have is our voices, so they must be Loud!!!