By Lynda Schneekloth
Chairwoman, Sierra Club Niagara Group
It’s not as if no one has tried to get the attention of the government of the United States and other world leaders since the early 1990s.
It’s not as if we haven’t known that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas for well over 100 years. But the world is full of distractions, disinformation and people getting very wealthy by not addressing climate change and staying the course with fossil fuels. One has to admit that the climate scientists had it wrong 20 years ago. They thought that we had until 2050 to substantially limit greenhouse gas emissions to avoid serious catastrophe.
The Kyoto Protocol, now 17 years old, outlined actions we might take, but didn’t. The United States in particular seems to be sleepwalking into the future regarding climate change. Now we know that scientists seriously underestimated how quickly things were changing.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us of the irreversible climate impacts occurring right now, and outlines disastrous impacts into the future. Leaders in the climate movement tell us this is Decade Zero. We take action now or it will be too late.
The question is: How do we get the attention of people? How do we connect with world leaders, our president and Congress, governors and local officials? How do we get the attention of everybody, since climate disruption is not simply an environmental problem, it is a planetary crisis? Pope Francis says, “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’ ” Suicide or perhaps genocide?
Now is the time to take to the streets, to shift this movement out of a segment of our society and to bring all of the people together to be more effective. It is time to take to the streets to address climate change, to invest in a new energy economy that has green jobs, to stop the monopoly of the fossil fuel giants and build shared energy production and distribution – in other words, to fight for a just transition to a new, more sustainable world.
And we are taking to the streets on Sunday in New York City at the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, who will meet to discuss world action on climate change.
More than 100,000 people are expected to march – an alliance of environmental, climate and labor movements, indigenous communities and other social, economic and democratic justice movements, all calling for ecological sanity.
We are building a big, loud movement together, for it appears that taking to the streets is the only way to protect global ecosystems from collapse and ensure a future for our children.
The text of the above article was originally published as an 'Another Voice' op-ed at The Buffalo News online on September 16, 2014.
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"Students on hundreds of campuses, and thousands of youth vote leaders across the country are bringing their power and voices to the People's Climate March to say enough is enough," said Maura Cowley, director of Energy Action Coalition.