Inverness Associates
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People’s Climate March: A Report from the Field

In the new year, I made a pledge to intensify my efforts on behalf of our environment and to fight climate change.  The new administration has made plain its plans to roll back the progress we have made over the past fifty years--in sharp rhetoric, threatening executive orders, and the appointment of anti-environmentalists to lead the EPA, the Departments of Interior and Energy, and in calls to abrogate our commitments to the Paris Climate Accords.  My pledge includes my own continued education, lobbying elected officials, direct action, and support for the church green team I lead.  As someone raised in a Republican household in the Midwest, I find it troubling that all these efforts serve to undermine the significant contributions the environmental movement has made to our economy and now threaten to cede leadership in renewable power to China.

It was a learning experience in community organizing to join the General Assembly that planned the April 29th People’s Climate March in Washington DC and the sister march in Oakland. In weekly calls with the DC group, we reviewed and designed everything from the overall purpose and messaging to the logistics of transportation and the march itself.  Through the General Assembly that shaped the Oakland gathering at Lake Merritt, I helped through several committees, including outreach to recruit participants and ways to engage the faith communities in the Bay Area.  I was especially glad to establish regular and significant communication with Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office that led to her becoming our keynote speaker.

Since fighting climate change is my greatest commitment, I decided to fly to Washington DC to join the main march, and what an incredible day it was.  It was ironic that the day itself nearly broke the temperature record of 93 degrees set fifty years ago in 1957.  

I joined the section called Protectors of the Future, marching with my son,and daughter-in-law, who work in international development and legal empowerment, and my new grandson.  Born in 2015, he will turn 35 at mid-century, and I feel a moral obligation to do everything I can to leave him a better world.  The march itself drew over 200,000, from infants to seniors, from youth representing their school green teams and college students working on divestment.

Our next steps now involve engaging the movement in turning around the misguided policies that threaten our environment.  The most recent report from the Yale Program for Climate Communication indicates that over two-thirds of Ameicans say they are worried about climate change and believe strong actions are required to combat global warming.  My concern is best summed up in the words of former UN Secretary General, who observed at the time of the last IPCC report that said our planet was in grave peril due to rising greenhouse gases: “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity.  Leaders must act.  We don’t have much time.”

Paul Chapman