Busy Days Precede a March Focusing on Climate Change

This is from the New York Times. They often do not allow comments, however we do.


In a three-story warehouse in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, hundreds of people are working to turn the People’s Climate March planned for Sunday into a visual spectacle.

There were victims of Hurricane Sandy from the Rockaways toiling with artists on a 30-foot inflatable life preserver, and immigrant artists constructing a papier-mâché tree embedded with axes. Elsewhere, religious leaders were building an ark and scientists were constructing a chalkboard covered with calculations about carbon.

The run-up to what organizers say will be the largest protest about climate change in the history of the United States has transformed New York City into a beehive of planning and creativity, drawing graying local activists and young artists from as far away as Germany.

“This is the final crunch, the product of six months of work to make the People’s March a big, beautiful expression of the climate movement,” said Rachel Schragis, a Brooklyn-based artist and activist who is coordinating the production of floats, banners and signs.

The march, organized by more than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups, is planned to wend its way through Midtown Manhattan along a two-mile route approved by the city’s Police Department last month. It will start at 11:30 a.m. at Columbus Circle, then move east along 59th Street, south on Avenue of the Americas and west on 42nd Street, finishing at 11th Avenue and West 34th Street.

Unlike the nuclear disarmament demonstration that drew more than 500,000 people to Central Park for speeches in 1982, the event on Sunday will rely on the marchers themselves to broadcast a message of frustration and anger at what organizers describe as a lack of action by American and world leaders.

At 1 p.m., after a moment of silence, marchers will be encouraged to use instruments, cellphone alarms and whistles to make as much noise as possible, helped by at least 20 marching bands and the tolling of church bells across the city.

“We’re going to sound the burglar alarm on people who are stealing the future,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of the group 350.org, which is helping to organize the march, and the author of several books about climate change, notably “The End of Nature,” published 25 years ago.

“Since then we’ve watched the summer Arctic disappear and the ocean turn steadily acidic,” Mr. McKibben said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It’s not just that things are not getting better. They are getting horribly worse. Unlike any other issue we have faced, this one comes with a time limit. If we don’t get it right soon, we’ll never get it right.”

Organizers say it is impossible to predict how many people could show up. But 1,400 “partner organizations” have signed on, ranging from small groups to international coalitions. In addition, students have mobilized marchers at more than 300 college campuses, and more than 2,700 climate events in 158 countries are planned to coincide with the New York march, including rallies in Delhi, Jakarta, London, Melbourne and Rio de Janeiro.


In New York, organizers are expecting 496 buses from as far away as Minnesota and Kansas to bring marchers.

“The most useful gallon of gasoline anyone will ever burn is the one that gets them to the march,” Mr. McKibben said. (By contrast, all floats will be pulled by biodeisel-powered cars and trucks or by hand, organizers said.)

The march, organized by over a dozen groups, will take place on Sunday in Manhattan. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

The march, organized by over a dozen groups, will take place on Sunday in Manhattan. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

The forecast called for mostly sunny weather with a high temperature of 81, which would encourage a larger turnout. In February 2013, more than 40,000 protesters turned out in Washington to demand action on climate change and to challenge the contentious Keystone XL pipeline.

The police are closing off Central Park West north of Columbus Circle, and organizers are asking marchers to gather from West 65th to West 86th Street, before the start of the march.

Leslie Cagan, a longtime New York activist who coordinated the nuclear disarmament demonstration in 1982, has met numerous times with the Police Department to iron out the logistics of Sunday’s march. “That area on Central Park West can hold a lot of people — we believe between 80,000 and 100,000,” she said. The police would not provide estimates of the number of expected attendees.

Organizers have asked marchers to go to various themed staging areas along Central Park West depending on their leanings.

For example, a contingent of labor, families, students and older adults can congregate north of West 65th Street under the rubric “We Can Build the Future.”

Organizers have run phone banks, blanketed subway stations with fliers and issued weekly news releases.

They also produced a 52-minute documentary, “Disruption,” about planning the march. The film, released on Sept. 7, includes footage of meetings and pre-march rallies — interspersed with lessons on climate change and the lagging efforts so far to stop it.

Organizers say they chose Sunday because it comes ahead of a climate summit at the United Nations on Tuesday. World delegates are expected to hold high-level discussions about climate change that will lay the groundwork for a potential global agreement on emissions next year in Paris. (Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on Tuesday that he planned to join the march.)

“When the secretary general invited world leaders to this summit, all of us in the climate justice movement thought, ‘Left to their own devices, these guys will do the same thing they’ve done for 25 years — i.e., nothing,’ ” Mr. McKibben said. “So we thought, we better go to New York, too.”

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