From the November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters
New York—Central Park was filled with hundreds of thousands at the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21. The common chant was, “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? NOW!” Signs called for an end to reliance on nuclear power.
There were signs and chants against fracking in New York State and nationwide, contingents of survivors of Hurricane Sandy, groups of college students and young people marching under their own banners, and older people as well. People came from the Midwest and the deep South, and as far away as California. One man rode his bicycle from Maine to New York for the march.
Spirits were very high with marching bands and people dancing in the streets. There was one minute of silence for all the past and future victims of climate change. The whole march fell silent and it seemed as if the City had as well. News & Letters was received favorably by hundreds of people who wanted to know more about the Marxist-Humanist position on the environment.
The only substantial disappointment was the decision by organizers to steer the march as far away as they could from the UN, where the three-day climate summit was about to be held. Given the peaceful character of the march, there was no reason not to send hundreds of thousands of people in the direction of the UN. The march would have been much more powerful had it gone to the UN, in the opinion of a number of people I spoke to. Hopefully this will mark the beginning of a specifically anti-capitalist environmental movement.
New York—The day before the march, Sept. 20, an array of events took place in Lower Manhattan at St. John’s University, The Graffiti Church and many other venues. The Chicago anti-nuclear group presented “Nuclear Power Makes Climate Change Worse and Is Stealing Our Energy Future.” Gail Snyder of Nuclear Energy Information Service summarized how Exelon is buying the votes of Illinois politicians to subsidize fossil and nuclear energy and withdraw support from renewable energy projects. An international panel discussed “Deadly Connections: Challenging Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power and Climate Change.”
The anti-nuclear contingent was one of very few to hold a rally. Arjun Makhijani, organizer of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and author of Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, spoke briefly. His remarks reflected scientists’ understanding of what is necessary for our country to meet its obligations to the future.
The Raging Grannies sang two or three pointed protest songs and New Yorker Joel Landy sang of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant, only 38 miles from the heart of the international population center: “If you don’t close Indian Point, kiss your ass goodbye.”
We anti-nukers gathered on Saturday at 72nd Street and Central Park West. But the planners did not count on a huge stream of participants joining us at 71st Street. We had to wait an entire hour for them to get into the parade stream. It was wonderful!