Monday, February 18, 2013

Protecting Mother Earth: Forward on Climate Rally

Denée Reaves, Program Assistant, International, Washington, D.C.

Despite the cold windy day today, more than 35,000 people came out for the Forward on Climate rally on the national mall to support action being taken on climate change. Groups representing every walk of life showed their solidarity in a peaceful friendly environment. Chants, dancing and bands abounded. Signs calling for a denial of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and investment in renewable energies could be seen everywhere you looked. But although the atmosphere was jovial, the issues we are fighting for are not. Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus said it best when he compared this rally to the one attended by Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago; people came out to the mall then to fight for equality, but we are here now fighting for existence.

The rally, organized by, Sierra Club, NRDC and many others was graced by speakers such as founder Bill McKibben, Rebuild a Dream President and NRDC Trustee Van Jones, actor Rosario Dawson, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and many representatives from First Nations, including Chief Jacqueline Thomas representing the Yinka Dene Alliance from British Columbia, Canada. Each speaker that approached the podium revved up the crowd with their heartfelt words and important messages. But as I was listening to these wonderful speakers, what struck me most were not the people on the stage, but the people in the audience. The crowd was overwhelmingly filled with Millennials.

Every way I turned I saw the people of my generation standing, shouting, stomping and screaming for a change in the way we look at and deal with climate change in our country. It is of the utmost importance to me that those of my generation are taking the issues of climate change to heart, and they did not disappoint today. One girl stopped me as I was walking in my bright red NRDC Forward on Climate hat, and asked me where I got it from. I replied that I work with the organization. This girl had worked one summer in our Santa Monica office and claimed it was the best summer she had ever had, and further went on to tell me I had the best job in the world. She was right.

The Forward on Climate Rally in DC was complimented by many sister rallies across the country. All of these rallies support the same cause: a better way of treating our planet, because as Chief Thomas' Medicine Woman grandmother put it when speaking about Mother Earth, "If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you."

Foward on Cliamte Rally.JPG

Photo Credit: Josh Mogerman, NRDC

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