This week, tens of thousands of citizens will gather in midtown Manhattan to demand action to protect Earth’s climate. Timed to coincide with the first UN summit on the climate crisis, the People’s Climate March is being billed as the largest-ever demonstration to combat global warming.
The organizers have refrained from attaching demands or even policy proposals so as to cast the widest possible net and present the assemblage as nonpartisan. This strategy has a certain logic, given the Republican stranglehold on the House and the clear possibility that the party will recapture the Senate in November ― although a strong streak of optimism is required to imagine that the GOP would permit meaningful climate legislation to come out of Congress any time soon.
Nevertheless, the organizers are inviting marchers to carry signs proclaiming their priorities for the twinned issues of climate and energy. There will be wind- and solar-power advocates urging that those sources’ shares of U.S. electricity production be raised far beyond their respective 5 percent and one-half of 1 percent; fracking opponents decrying the chemical mining of rural landscapes for natural gas, the least-polluting fossil fuel but one whose main molecular constituent, methane, is itself a potent greenhouse gas; anti-nukers who regard the carbon-free reactors that supply nearly one-fifth of U.S. electricity not as climate saviors but as subsidized relics impeding the transition to a renewables-based power grid; and “climate justice” advocates insisting that climate policy not disadvantage the poor ― a class that is growing more numerous even as American energy production reaches record heights.