Thousands press government for climate action in Washington
Ann Arbor 350 filled a bus with supporters
When nearly 50,000 activists convened on Washington Feb. 17 to demand action on climate change, the crowd included dozens of Ecology Center supporters who rode together to the rally on buses organized by Ann Arbor 350, a program of the Ecology Center working on practical and local solutions to climate change.
"We need to move President Obama to take immediate action, and the way to sway the administration is to show a dramatic increase in the size of this movement," according to Monica Patel, policy specialist at the Ecology Center and coordinator of Ann Arbor 350. "We accomplished that by bringing the largest climate rally ever right to the president's front door. Obama's legacy rests on his leadership in the face of an unstable and uncertain climate future. Only the president has the power to lead an effort on the scale and with the urgency needed to phase out fossil fuels and fire up both energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy sources."
"There was enormous energy and enthusiasm from everyone at the rally, and I think everyone was surprised and encouraged by the turnout," according to Ryan Moody, an intern for Ann Arbor 350 who rode on the bus to Washington. He noted that the message wasn't focused solely on climate change, but included other environmental threats, including oil spills on land and water, mountaintop removal, and water pollution from fracking and mining.
"I really felt touched by the First Nations speakers' poetic personification of nature's elements, the soil, water, trees, storms and creatures, to which we are all vitally tied," Moody said. "Our future depends on these. So it would be unjust to our children and their children for us to allow one short-sighted group, the fossil-fuel companies, to profit off the ruin of earth's life support systems. They are the extremists who insist on this pollution, and we are conservative in our request to preserve and sustain the environment."
Another Ann Arbor 350 intern, Jill Carlson, noted that many of the people on the bus had never attended a rally before. "I think that says something really important - the climate movement isn't fringe action," Carlson said. "The climate movement and Occupy and people's beliefs about how we should live sutainably are growing stronger and more clarified."
At the rally, Kathryn Savoie, the Ecology Center's Detroit community health director (left) and her daughter, Anika Hunter, met up with the Lorax, the character from the Dr. Suess fable about the dangers that nature faces from corporate greed.
"It was a great experience for me and Anika to see so many other folks who were willing to spend their time and energy to bring about much-needed change," Savoie said. "It gave me hope for the future."
EcoLink — February 2013 Ecolink An online publication of the Ecology Center