Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pennsylvania Chapter

Climate Change Energy

Pittsburghers Join ‘Forward on Climate’ Rally in DC.

Photo by Cara Bessko

Thanks to folk who donated to help cover bus costs, and to the Thomas Merton Center, Marcellus Shale Protest, and PenEnvironment for their support.

At 7 am last Sunday morning ninety-one hardy souls boarded two buses headed for the ‘Forward on Climate’ rally in Washington. They arrived amidst 150 other buses to join about 35,000 activists from around the country, taking part in a rally organized by the Sierra Club, 350.ORG, and the Hip Hop Caucus. Speakers urged President Obama to up his game on climate change, beginning with prevention of the Keystone XL Pipeline. With a wind chill factor in the mid-20s, the largest ‘climate change’ crowd so far left the Washington Monument to march around the White House. Although the Pittsburgh media largely ignored the event, C-Span recorded all the speakers, the NY Times pointed out the dilemma that the protesters pose for Obama, and there was wide coverage from many media outlets such as the Huffington Post, NPR, The Nation, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Washington Post.

See the 6-min video of the rally by Michael Bagdes-Canning of Marcellus Outreach Butler.

Below are reflections by a few of the local people who participated in the ‘Forward on Climate’ rally, Feb. 17.

I thought the rally went great. I was happy to be part of it, but I’ve been pondering whether it will have any real effect. The country is just so divided; the selfish and socially deaf vs. the people who have a social conscience. I feel like we are trying to prop up a model that can’t be propped up anymore: yet still we try. The propaganda blitz executed the cretins on the Right has done it’s job. People are so confused that they don’t know what to believe about almost anything. Even Obama thinks the Bully Pulpit is broken. There are just too many ways to refute someone’s position, no matter how upstanding. And too many people willing to tear things down just to suit their ends. Just take a look at the gun fight: the gun people just cannot imagine being wrong, and the answer to everything is more guns.

I watched a piece on the Keystone XL on “The News Hour” tonight. There was the usual back and forth, false equivalent debate. The thing that gets me is the moron lawyer from Bracewell and Guilliani wouldn’t budge. I think these folks have just given up, and are content to die happy (and take everyone else with them).”

Tim Kelly, Sewickley

There are no words to properly convey the experience that was Sunday’s Rally for me. From the energy in the crowd as the speakers stoked the audience, to the circling chopper above, to the sounds weaving in, over and through the tens of thousands of marchers… the feeling burns though you- ‘Can you hear us now?! We aren’t going away! We are only getting bigger! For the future of our entire planet, we will win this war!’.

It was a fly speck on the timeline of earth. It was but a brief moment in human existence. But no other moment held more weight for the future, than Sunday, February 17, 2013. And through all the moments in my existence, it was the most important moment that I’ve been involved with. Onward we go.”

Martin Smyczek, Bridgeville

How to describe being present at the climate change rally? It was ENERGIZING! I felt a feeling of solidarity that was just spine tingling. I saw seniors with canes, parents with toddlers, people of color, and young people…many young people. Most had signs or posters. I marched with the First Nation people from Canada as they drummed and chanted. I marched with others as we shouted out, “This is what democracy looks like!” I witnessed the beaming faces of two women from Minnesota who said they just had to be there. I saw the look of elation and amazement of others as they looked around at their fellow marchers as we all passed by the White House. It was EMPOWERING”!

Ted Popovich, Ben Avon

I woke on this day with some trepidation about participating in the XL Pipeline Climate Rally on the National Mall. Echoes resonate in my mind of past days rallying for Earth Day, protesting nuclear power, protesting the Vietnam War, protesting for compliance with the newly passed Clean Air Act. Would this be one more futile attempt to move the entrenched powers that Be? Will this effort further marginalize the initiative for a sustainable future? Or will we finally find common ground across a broad enough spectrum of the public to begin to move the Ship of State in the right direction?

As I walked from the train station toward the Washington Monument I saw people gathering in a steady growing stream – people in costumes displaying their positions against fracking, against the pipeline, with windmills attached; people carrying children, even babies on this blustery winter day; students in groups with signs and people promoting associated causes. People of all ages, of many colors and persuasions, even a few in business suits! My spirits began to lift a bit as I looked around and called around to meet up with my colleagues, ultimately unsuccessfully. I went to the very front of the stage area, on the right and saw the preparations for the event set up. I spoke to people from Washington State as they assembled a large pipe with a sign Stop the PXL Pipeline! There were people from South Carolina Lowlands protesting fracking, and we compared stories of how things are going there. I spoke to a gentleman from Veterans for clean power, and greeted my colleague from the American Sustainable Business Association. An enthusiastic group of Hispanic students from Kentucky came in and pushed forward.

I found my enthusiasm rising as the speeches started, and the energy soared with fists in the air, jumping in unison, breathing in solidarity with First nation speakers. I was moved to hear the impassioned statements of … that it is the first time indigenous people and white people are standing together for the same cause. “We all bleed red, no matter the color of our skin” Indeed, and we all breathe the same air and depend on fresh water for life. The common ground is that we all care for our children, for their secure future, and for the rights of the Earth.”

Patty DeMarco, Pittsburgh

My primary reason for attending this rally and I think the reason most people attended was the larger issue of climate change which as you can see from some of the reporting gets lost in the discussion about the Keystone Pipeline. I was excited to see so many people who are determined to push our government to act on climate change. Whether or not the Keystone Pipeline gets approved to me is of lesser importance than a putting a price on carbon. Since it doesn’t seem likely that Congress will act then I think the president will follow through and take some action. I think the most effective action would be the EPA putting a limit on carbon emissions.”

Fred Kraybill, Pittsburgh

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