Monday, September 22, 2014

HUGE Throng at Climate March, But Will It Make A Difference?

Big crowds at the People's Climate March
Sunday in New York.  
The powers that be who keep track of such things  have pretty much settled on crowd estimates of 310,000 or so people who marched in Sunday's People's Climate March in New York City.

That's more than was generally expected, and together with a bunch of satellite marches worldwide, there was quite a turnout, to be sure.

One of the lead organizers, Bill McKibben, a climate activist (and fellow Vermonter!) said this was the largest demonstration by people concerned with climate change.

Which means theres a groundswell out there on the issue of climate change. The question is, will the New York march and all the other demonstrations make a difference? I frankly wonder.

My skepticism and cynicism isn't meant to insult or disparage all those people who took part in marches Sunday. If people feel strongly about anything, they should march in the streets, and the should make their voices heard.

I don't know if all these people marching would make an immediate change, but surely nothing would happen with regard to climate change policy if nobody marched.

So the People's Climate March was definitely a good thing.
Streets filled with climate demonstrators
in New York Sunday.  

Now, how will the policy makers react? This is where my cynicism kicks in. The march in New York was timed to coincide with a big United Nations meeting on climate. But the UN is pretty famous for putting out great reports on climate change, but not doing much on policy to combat it.

What about politicians?  Especially in the United States. Gridlock seems to have become a national tradition, especially in Congress, so nothing will happen, I fear.

This is especially the case because it's become a matter of faith, facts be damned, among both the conservatives and especially the Tea Party types that climate change is just a big hoax imposed on us by people who hate freedom.

Not to mention climate scientists who supposedly are raking in zillions of dollars in federal grants by studying climate change and sounding the alarm.

Like somebody's going to become a millionaire by poking probes into decaying ice fields in Greenland amid horrible weather for a few months.

But anyway, the conservatives. The very right wing had the following headline for their People's Climate March story on Sunday: "Thousands Take To Streets Worldwide To Demand More Taxes, Less Energy."

That's the mindset we're working with, folks.  Supposedly serious policymakers actually believe headlines like that.  This is why I'm dubious about political leadership.

Well, then, maybe industry, business and many of those thousands of people, and others, will just make end runs around the obstinate politicians and take matters into their own hands. There does seem to be a thriving alternative energy industry popping up.    Investors, jobseekers and just about everybody else ought to like that.

The insurance industry, with a perfectly sensible eye on their bottom line, is taking climate change seriously.

But then you have Big Oil and those types, who are trying to preserve their business model, which means burning as much fossil fuel as possible.

I bring these up because industry does seem to have the lobbying power to control Congress, and thus policy. The only way we're going to seriously combat climate change is if the power of industry lobbyists sways more toward dealing with, rather than ignoring climate change.

I still wonder who will win this power game. Marches like the one on Sunday are a heads up there is some people power out there trying to sway things.

But as successful as Sunday's demonstrations were, the peaceful pressure from the likes of McKibben and all those placard waving marchers is going to have to continue and intensify.

Just like climate change itself.

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