New York City this week and next is the center of the Climate Activist universe. I define activism broadly: it means not only being in the streets and expressing discontent with the pace of change toward decarbonizing and denuclearizing our energy economies to save the climate system, but also doing the hard work of researching, litigating, legislating, organizing, writing, speaking, making movies, teaching, farming, financing, designing, planning, building, regulating, and working, day after day, to create the newer world that we need. I celebrate everybody and all the energy and focus and commitment brought over the past 50 years of the modern environmental movement that has brought us forward. The first environmental journalist, Phil Shabecoff, wrote a great book, A Fierce Green Fire, about the movement. (They made a documentary last year too.)
The good folks at NYU’s Earth Matters and NYU Divest have been having a number of events around the big march on Sunday. I went to one last night to hear Bill McKibben speak. I revere Bill for his writing, his speaking, his organizing. He was very kind to give my book a great endorsement. But he irked me a bit last night calling environmentalism a “niche movement.” I’ve been around it for 45 years, folks, and I can tell you that we have moved mountains! I’ve written about it, I’ve taught it, I’ve worked in government and I’ve done my fair share of activism and so I know what I’m saying here. I think Bill maybe knows too, but denigrating the environmental movement because we haven’t yet solved the climate crisis to his satisfaction is not what I’d call helpful.
Moving on, the PCM itself and the many events surrounding it are all a great way to learn about the issues and to make connections to build the movement and to have some fun. The PCM is geared to make some key people listen. Many world leaders are gathering at the UN next week for the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. The thinking is that the summit will further galvanize important world powers for the international negotiations on a new climate treaty. The negotiations, we all hope, will culminate, successfully, in Paris next year. Beyond the PCM-connected events, there will be many more as part of Climate Week NY°C. I’m looking forward to going to and taking part in events connected to both the PCM and Climate Week.
It’s a big movement. Maybe see you Sunday at the People’s Climate March. In the meantime, here’s a great little video from the UN.