Ahead of the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday September 23rd 2014, more than 300,000 people gathered in NYC for a People’s Climate March to send a message to leaders from around the world to take action in mitigating the threat of global climate change.
Organizers thought they were being overly cautious when they planned for the possibility of up to 100,000 people showing up for the march. But when people lined up along the streets to what was nearly 30 city blocks, they knew that this was huge.
In addition, there were simultaneous marches in many major international cities in solidarity for a total number close to half a million.
In comparison, Occupy Wall Street had at most 40,000 people on a good day. An anti-war march would be historic to have the rare 100,000 people show up at a single protest and NYC would be lucky to have even 1000 people show up to protest the high rents.
Among the people who participated in the historic march of Sunday September 21st was Al Gore, the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing world-wide attention to global warming. In addition, there was actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Senator Bernie Sanders, and UN Secretary General Ben K. Moon.
Even Mayor Bill deBlasio and his entire city council marched along side by side with protestors in solidarity, something that one would never see in an Occupy Wall Street event.
Americans are united on the issue of climate change. People sense that humanity is in a race against time, that it may be too late and this may be the biggest issue we may ever face as a species.
According to data from Gallup and other polls, most Americans believe that climate change is a more urgent threat than terrorism, economic disparity, and increasing real estate prices combined. Polls show that more than two thirds of Americans feel that climate change is happening and will have detrimental consequences worldwide. The scientific consensus is overwhelming on the issue of man-made climate change.
But there is also an overwhelming scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs. So where does the public draw the line on what to believe and not believe when it considers scientific consensus?
Monsanto, for instance, has built up a case for GMOs based on the argument of climate change. This has rallied world leaders such as President Obama and Bill Gates to push for GMO development in the face of increasing aridness of land caused by the changing climate.
There is also the question of energy independence. Many people are also concerned about fracking and Russia’s Arctic oil exploration. So far, the international community has not found reasonable substitutes for fossil fuels to meet the increasing demands of a growing world population that may be destined for poverty and hyper income inequality.
It may be wiser to keep the fossil fuel industry in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries and shelve energy independence until America develops more carbon free sources of energy.
Yet, this doesn’t help developing countries like China and India, each with a combined population over exceeding 2.5 billion and on the verge of energy consumption far above anything we’ve seen or dreamed of. Already the addition of these two giants of economic development has increased carbon emissions by 40 billion tons last year alone, the highest increase on record.
There may be increasing international pressure on these two countries in the near future and they may be blamed as the guilty parties in a future environmental disaster for their quest of economic equality with the USA (which only has a population of 300 million.)
Eventually, these issues will also effect Africa and South America and other parts of the developing world with increasing energy needs that cannot be provided by the technology we have today.
World leaders are going to tread carefully because hard choices may be made between tackling the challenge of economic inequality and the issue of climate change.