Coast to coast, thousands rally to demand change on U.S. climate policy

• February 18, 2013
Climate rally LA

Creative Commons: Karl Burkart, TckTckTck, 2013

It’s not easy getting people in Los Angeles to ditch their sunny weekend plans and come downtown to march on City Hall, but that’s just what happened yesterday as thousands descended onto the normally traffic-laden streets to participate in the #ForwardOnClimate rally. College kids with funky hand-made signs, native elders dressed in full feathered regalia, strolling-pushing dads and spank-wearing soccer moms all united in one common message — the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a line in the sand, and we cannot cross it.

The KXL pipeline which would cross from the Alberta tar sands region in Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, traversing sensitive American aquifers and agricultural communities along the way. Though it’s a half a continent away, the message given today in Los Angeles is that the oil pipeline would affect us all by locking in decades of oil production and the “detonation” of what some scientists, like James Hansen, have called a “carbon bomb” — a commitment to unleashing gigatons worth of CO2 emissions, which we can’t afford if we are to keep the planet’s global temperature rise below the catastrophic 2 degree tipping point.

Kids Native Climate rally LA

Creative Commons: Karl Burkart, TckTckTck, 2013

While Senator Waxman, Orlando Bloom, and native leaders were taking to the podium in LA  to call upon the Obama administration to take direct and immediate executive action on climate change, more than 40,000 people were marching in Washington to do the same. Here’s an excerpt from the moving description by who with the Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus led the rally in Washington:

What a day! Over 40,000 people poured into the streets of Washington, DC today to push President Obama to take our nation “Forward on Climate” and say no to the Keystone XL pipeline. Our team here at had expected a crowd, but this was MASSIVE. Volunteers from around the country organized 130 buses to get people to the rally and it showed: there were people of all ages from Florida to Wisconsin to California here today.

Students especially showed up in force. I ran into young people from all across the country, many of whom are hard at work running fossil fuel divestment campaigns on their campuses. This is the next generation of the climate movement, just as comfortable negotiating in a board room as they are marching in the streets.  Our message for President Obama was crystal clear: time to live up to your rhetoric, take us forward on climate, and say no the Keystone XL pipeline. As former White House green jobs advisor (and movement hero) Van Jones said from the stage, “This will define your legacy, Mr. President.”

Read more about the #ForwardOnClimate rally on the website and check out the Sierra Club’s amazing twitter photo wall.

climate rally DC

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About the Author

Karl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.

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