Not since the Vietnam War have there been so many protests and marches in the U.S., and perhaps not even then. The latest, on Saturday, was the People’s Climate March held in Washington, D.C., which reportedly drew either ‘tens of thousands’ or ‘hundreds of thousands’, depending on which news media you read – the official estimate is 200,000. The goal of the march was to voice opposition to the Trump administration’s environmental agenda and the decades-long history of American inaction on climate change.
The March, sponsored by the People’s Climate Movement, began at the foot of the Capitol, then the protesters marched to the White House, surrounding the mansion while President Trump was inside on his 100th day in office. Once there, the demonstrators let out a collective roar, meant to symbolically drown out the voices of the administration’s climate change deniers.
The weather cooperated, helping make the point that climate change is not fantasy or fiction, but in fact … fact. The average high temperature in Washington in April is 66° F. During yesterday’s march, the temperature reached a fairly sweltering 91° F, which tied the record for highest temperature on that date in recorded history.
Other similar but smaller demonstrations took place around the nation, all protesting the Trump regime’s terribly short-sighted actions over the past three months. Trump has appointed one of the chief antagonists of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, as its administrator and proposed slashing its budget by nearly a third, more than any other federal agency. He has signed several executive orders aimed at rolling back President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations intended to close heavily polluting coal-fired power plants, and restrictions on vehicle emissions, among others. This past week, Trump signed orders intended to initiate reviews aimed at opening certain protected lands and waters to drilling, mining and logging. And on Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had taken down several agency web pages that contained climate data and other scientific information relating to climate change. Apparently Scott Pruitt found it inconvenient to deny the scientific evidence presented on his own website.
Just four days before, this headline caught my eye: California submerging: Rising seas are claiming its famed coast faster than scientists imagined – CALmatters, 25 April 2017
The gist of the article is that polar ice is melting and glacier shelves cracking at a faster pace than scientists first thought, and this will likely lead to a rise in sea level of 10 feet over the next 70 years. Some of those lovely beachfront homes will be under water in a few short decades.
By most measures, the Climate March was considered a success, and I would agree, but the true measure of its success will depend on the legislators and executive branch. One march is not likely to do the trick, but it will require us all to continue voicing our opposition to destructive laws and executive orders, to make Trump and Congress aware that we value our planet more than corporate greed.
A few quotes from participants:
“It also sends a message to the corporations that really run things that people care. Even in Appalachia, now, the power companies are moving to renewables. Marches like this continue that pressure.” – Deborah Markowitz, the former Vermont secretary of state and a current professor at the University of Vermont.
“From the time I was a child, I just loved trees and nature. My plea is please, please, care about our planet. It’s the only one we have—how dumb is it to mess up your own home?” – Laura Isensee, a 65-year-old physician from Houston, Texas
“I think first of the grass, plants, animals, eagles, birds, fish — without water, nothing will survive. This isn’t just important for me; it’s important for everybody.” – Alphonse LeRoy, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota
And a few signs: