From The Left
By Brendan LeRoy
On Sept. 21, the largest protest for climate action, the “People’s Climate March,” was held in New York with smaller protests from Seattle to Berlin. An unprecedented 310,000 activists, three times the expected attendance, gathered in historical numbers in hope to make noise ahead of the United Nations’ Climate Summit on Sept. 23.
Despite being the largest gathering since the Iraq War protests in 2003, not only did the activists fail to influence the public but the protest also lacked recognition by the media and public officials. As Sept. 21 has come and gone, the rally will not become the historic tipping point hoped for to persuade the public to demand climate action.
The intent of the People’s Climate March was to raise awareness for climate change and influence the Climate Summit. According to a New York Times, CBS poll from Sept. 15, it suggests any opposition to the credibility of climate change is only a vocal minority. 74 percent of Americans believe climate change is a major environmental problem either now or will be in the future. The poll also showed that 54 percent believe climate change is caused by man whereas only 10 percent believe climate change does not exist. This poll suggests Americans believe climate change is a major concern but this concern does not translate into action.
The media presents an opinion held by Democratic and Republican, leaders but those opinions propose an entirely different perspective compared to those of the American public. The right-wing media advocates universal dismissal that climate change is of any significance whereas the liberal media advocates the opposite. Democrats appease their base with their empty rhetoric; their words are hollow and their actions are worthless attempts for real change. Republicans are truthful, but their unanimous opposition to climate action does not agree with Republican voters who are split on the issue.
The “People’s Climate March” was monstrous, the largest of its kind. Chances are you did not even hear that the demonstration occurred or that nations from around the world gathered to recognize climate change two days later. Only one senator attended the event, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. If Democratic leaders cared enough they easily could have used the demonstration to bring attention to the U.N. Climate Summit, but they failed to act. Americans cannot seem to agree on whether two plus two is four, but Americans agree that the climate is shifting and the world should take steps to mitigate the growing hazard.
The United States is not the only country to recognize the growing danger of climate change but sit on their hands when called to action. President Obama spoke at the Summit about the increased frequency and severity of climate-induced events around the United States such as wildfires, flooding, droughts and hurricanes. European nations, Australia, New Zealand and even China have recognized the growing need to address the changing climate. Despite the loud demands for change, the Summit concluded with little progress.
Even if the pledges made at the U.N. Climate Summit follow through, greenhouse gas emissions will still increase by 50 percent by 2040. The U.N. Summit committed to halt the destruction of forests by 2030, a major component to climate change. Even with this promise, half of all tropical rainforests have already been destroyed by logging since 1947; by 2030 it is projected that 80 percent will have been destroyed. The world recognizes climate change and recognizes the projected catastrophe that will ensue, but these actions are hollow and worthless.
As the temperature rises, weather events become more frequent and severe, the sea levels rise and the earth enters a sixth major extinction period, it has then become imperative to make serious changes to human impacts on the environment. Scientific and government leaders recognize these growing dangers, but those with the greatest capacity to reform man’s actions perceive climate change as an item that can be indefinitely delayed until tomorrow. Regardless of promises by the wealthiest nations, they geographically reside outside of the regions of greatest impact. Implementing solutions to minimize the impending catastrophes are perpetually postponed.
At some level, world leaders understand the necessity to act. Despite good intentions, action will be postponed until after disaster strikes. Combating the changing climate will require a global effort which is not in place. Leaders of nations will continue to do the bare minimum; no nation wishes to push a costly agenda when global cooperation is unknown. Our leaders are lying to us; the world has no intention to reduce the impact on the environment. To avoid tragic results from man’s actions in the world, nations must cooperate immediately to stop the continuing destruction of the earth. Only the blind would be unable to see that the direction we are inevitably heading toward is the anticipated catastrophe.
Brendan LeRoy is a junior majoring in linguistics.