Why the People’s Climate March Matters

The People’s Climate March is a week from today, and it is shaping up to be, by far, the largest climate march in history. Having watched the organization of this march since April, I am proud of and inspired by the long months of passionate work by so many people. The fervor and energy that I have seen throughout the process make it clear just how imperative and desperate the work for strong international climate legislation has become after decades of inaction. It has been wonderful to see many groups and constituencies, such as labor, artists, anti-war, anti-corporate and environmental groups coming together under one banner: to fight for a livable future that includes safe, well-paying jobs, an economy that works for everyone, not just the oligarchs, and a livable climate.

Although hundreds of thousands of people will take to the streets in seven days, not everyone believes that the People’s Climate March is the best tactic the climate movement could use to get the attention of world leaders and advocate for climate sanity.

Some people say that the People’s Climate March is pointless: that it will not lead to any serious commitment from world leaders on climate change. Some people say that it needs a more clear message, a demand for a specific commitment. They say that there’s nothing we can do at this point. Some say we should enjoy life because we’ve screwed up so badly that it doesn’t matter whether we try to make things better now. Many people look at me like I’m naive, or simply going through my ‘activist’ phase. I find that insulting.

I have no choice but to be hopeful. I have never lived on a planet unaffected by climate change. The realities of mass extinction, resource conflict, and the possibility of total ecological collapse are horrible things that all young people have had to come to grips with. How can you pass this earth on to me, in the state that it is in, and then say that I don’t have the right to have a dream, to fight for something that may be out of our reach? No matter what may actually come of the People’s Climate March, the UN Climate Summit, or COP 21, young people are working towards our future. It may be a future of climate chaos, but there’s no way we can survive without the love, care, thought, and critical thinking that has propelled our movement so far. Worst case scenario, those qualities will carry us through the next decades, and hopefully bring us to a heavily altered, yet somewhat livable world.

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