2017 People’s Climate March

by Celeste Oram and Mark Hughes

2017 People's Climate March

People marching in San Diego. Photo by Greg Lowe.

On April 29th, 2017, SanDiego350 and partner organizations put on our local version of the People’s Climate March. This march was held last in 2014 and around 1,500 people participated. This year, the goal was to double that number, but that’s not what happened. Instead, the rally and march drew over 5,000 people. A success by any measure, and that was matched by the tens of thousands across the country and across the world who took part in the collective march. There is no doubt our demands on our leaders to respect science in general and climate science in particular, to get in step with nearly all the rest of the world, was heard. Perhaps our voices were even loud enough to break through the walls that separate some people’s alternate worlds from ours. This is critical, because while our collective knowledge makes us powerful, our individual ignorance makes us dangerous. And one day’s march, no matter how many people take part, will not solve the problem. Only sustained presence, sustained demands, will impel our leaders to act on our demands and on the needs of our planet and the life it sustains.

–Mark

Judging by people’s signs, t-shirts, and speeches, the ideas floating around at the march attested to the broad base of individuals and organizations that are responding to climate change on a grass-roots level. The march’s top level demands united us all: reduce carbon emissions, and conserve natural resources. But the solutions marchers put forward to achieve those goals were multifarious and often personal: switching to solar, wind, and clean energy; divesting from coal; going vegetarian or vegan; reducing waste; lobbying San Diego council members to vote in favor of AB-805 and support mass transit; lobbying Congress against constructing pipelines, and so on. Concern over climate change was represented at the march as a one-issue platform, but a multi-solution response. I, for one, was buoyed by this sense of unity combined with vast opportunity for climate action.

Sign of the times

Sign of the times. Photo by Greg Lowe.

The march also showcased what an effective set of partner organizations can achieve (there were more than 50 organizations that took part in putting the march on, with SanDiego350 in the primary leadership role). Over 100 volunteers representing these organizations, each co-operating with the whole, provided small but essential tasks that helped make the march peaceful and purposeful.

Lastly, my favorite part of marches is always the witty, pointed art and slogans contributed by individual marchers. From solar-powered signs to dogs marching with their owners under the slogan ‘Pups Against Trump’, the creativity on display from marchers’ signs and costumes testified to the urgency many in the climate action community feel. This undeniable repository of energy and dedication is a source of optimism and comfort for those fighting for climate justice. Creative energy, after all, is an infinitely renewable resource.

–Celeste

Celeste Oram, originally hailing from New Zealand, is currently pursuing a PhD at UC San Diego.

Mark Hughes has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kansas State and spent over 30 years in the power industry. Now retired, he has devoted a portion of his life to raising awareness about climate change, which he sees as the #1 threat to not just Mankind, but all life on Earth.

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