While You Were Watching Football

by: Christopher Rockwell

Sunday, hundreds of thousands converged upon New York City for The People’s Climate March, taking a global stance on climate-change to the streets….

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While you were watching football on Sunday, an estimated 400,000 people descended upon New York City as part of the People’s Climate March. The People’s Climate March, it should be noted, is not a one day event. It is a series of 2,700 events taking place in more than 150 countries to demand global action in a world being ravaged by climate change. The event in New York was the culmination of this world-wide push for change and, strategically, took place just days before a historic summit on climate change which begins today, with the world’s leaders gathering in New York City for the United Nations Climate Summit. A summit where leaders have been invited to announce “significant and substantial initiatives to help move the world toward a path that will limit global warming.” This is potentially the beginning of a cascade of ground-breaking changes that could alter our malignant treatment of Mother Earth.

For many months now flyers have been seen plastered throughout subway stations, across the city’s parks and hung-up in cafes and restaurants1. The marketing campaign was aggressive and fruitful, with Sunday’s march becoming the largest climate march in history, bigger than the Forward on Climate rally held last year in Washington DC. Well over three times the expected crowd of 100,000 people filled the streets of Manhattan. The People’s Climate March was organized by an evolving coalition of more than 1,500 organizations demanding that world leaders take the alarming problem that is climate change seriously. Spearheading the events was 350.org, a non-profit championing a global climate movement and a group you might remember as leading the charge against the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline that runs from Canada and throughout the United States. More than 550 buses carried-in people from all over the country to the city’s streets, many of them dressed in poignant costumes and heaving signs with powerful messages high into the air. They were people from all different walks of life, but united over one crucial cause. All while you were watching football.

Environmentally-active policy makers such as former President Al Gore, U.N. Secretary-General Ban KI-Moon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator’s Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) walked alongside notable environmentalists including Jane Goodall, Bill McKibben (co-founder of 350.org), Edward Norton, Leonardo Dicaprio and Vandana Shiva. In fact, the march was so enthusiastically attended that organizers had to send out texts and tweets to supporters in the late afternoon, asking for marchers to leave as the route had become filled to capacity. All this was all happening around the time you were awaiting the second round of NFL Sunday games to kick off.

One could easily surmise that such an enormous show of support for this looming problem facing all of mankind produced a nation-wide media frenzy. Unfortunately this was not the case, as the march and the impending climate summit were merely a footnote, if anything, on the evening’s telecasts. “NBC Nightly News” was the only evening news show to do any segment on the march, late in the telecast, while ABC devoted roughly 23 seconds to the topic, and CBS spent exactly zero seconds on it. New Yorkers were well aware of the hundreds of thousands of people passionately parading through their main arteries, yet CNN, Fox, and MSNBC continued to focus on the NFL (the lead story across the board on Sunday’s newscasts – once again), as well as the war against ISIS, the White House intruder, and the November elections. For an event of this magnitude, the coverage was fairly muted. On the other hand, coverage of Peyton Manning’s last minute drive to force overtime was headline news.

While so much rhetoric has been spewed from our government, and the scattering of meager policy changes geared towards decreasing carbon dioxide emissions enacted, the fact of the matter is that more carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere last year than any year prior, primarily by India, China, and of course, The United States2. The climate-change problem is real, and demanding a solution is what this event was all about. The problem of climate change is a global one, and the marches leading up to the event in New York City, and the ones occurring simultaneously in places like Paris and Papua New Guinea, in many ways give us hope. We are all in in this together, transnationally, and together is the only way we can combat this dynamic issue. Sunday’s march was meant to garner awareness for the UN Climate Summit occurring today, and to show how fully the climate movement has moved into the mainstream. But there are larger battles still to be had ahead. The next round of talks concerning an International Climate Treaty will be held in Paris, France a year from now3. There is still time to act, to get involved. To let politicians know that you care about this. To let your neighbors and friends know you care. And to further champion the urgency of the cause. It may not be too late for us. Don’t worry, football will still be there waiting for you….

  1. More than 1 million flyers were distributed. []
  2. In a distressing turn of events, top leaders from China and India have announced that they will not be attending today’s Climate Summit at the U.N.. []
  3. The next official UNFCCC negotiating session will be held at the UN climate conference in Lima, Peru in December, where they will set up global agreements to be finalized in Paris, France. []

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