People’s Climate March’ Accomplishes Nothing Besides Massive Carbon Footprint
Hundreds of thousands of environmental activists flocked to New York City over the weekend to take place in what is being called the largest march ever to demand world leaders impose tough regulations to tackle global warming.
But the “People’s Climate March” is likely to fall on deaf ears as leaders from the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters ditched the conference. The march is also heavily supported by celebrities and politicians who boast large carbon footprints, making it harder to take activists seriously.
According to the march’s organizers, somewhere around 400,000 activists showed up to march ahead of a major United Nations climate summit — based on estimates using number of city blocks of people marching.
Dozens of senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, showed up to march alongside activists. Other notables include celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Sting as well as with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. And of course, former Vice President Al Gore was there to join in on the fun.
But it takes a lot of fossil fuels to get tens of thousands of activists to New York City. Greenpeace and other groups, for example, chartered buses so activists across the country could take part in the march. The Guardian reports that nearly “500 buses have brought in demonstrators from other US states and Canada.” This of course, mixed with roadblocks for the march, caused huge traffic jams.
Not to mention the number of activists who took drove their cars, rode trains or flew in airplanes to the march, including DiCaprio and Gore. Also not accounted for is the increased electricity being used to accommodate the thousands of activists this weekend, which primarily comes from natural gas. A large chunk of electricity in New York also comes from nuclear power, which environmentalists also oppose.
When questioned about fossil fuel use by celebrities, actor Mark Ruffalo said questioning their personal carbon footprints wasn’t appropriate because such inquiries defied “the spirit of what this is about.”
“Oh brother. That is a question you shouldn’t be asking here today because that defies the spirit of what this is about,” Ruffalo told the blog Climate Depot. “That is a kind of a mental Jujutsu — that question. The fact of the matter is why — if they did not have any power, why are they attacking people like Leonardo DiCaprio?”
“The fact of the matter is Leonardo DiCaprio’s voice carries farther than any one of those politicians, even the president. And that is significant and he knows he has a responsibility to the people in the world to get this message out because he feels in his heart it is right,” Ruffalo said. “Anyone who attacks Leonardo DiCaprio is either a coward or an ideologue.”
According to activists, they were joined by tens of thousands of more activists marching in locations around the world, from Copenhagen to London to Melbourne. These activists were led by celebrities and politicians who took to the streets as well, including singer Peter Gabriel and actress Emma Thompson.
President Obama will be one of 120 world leaders present at the UN’s climate summit, which begins Tuesday. The summit was called by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is begging delegates to come with “bold ideas” on how to combat global warming in the hopes they can hammer out some sort of international climate agreement.
The star-studded march in New York City and across the world to demand action on global warming no doubt garnered tons of media coverage, but what are they likely to accomplish? Probably nothing.
Like many climate marches, rallies and campaigns before it, activists from first world countries will likely do little to convince third world leaders to ditch fossil fuels, which underpin their rapidly developing economies.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the “Chinese economy has been the No. 1 global producer of carbon dioxide since 2008, but President Xi Jinping won’t be gracing the U.N. with his presence. India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi (No. 3) will be in New York but is skipping the climate parley. Russian President Vladimir Putin (No. 4) has other priorities, while Japan (No. 5) is uncooperative after the Fukushima disaster that has damaged support for nuclear power. Saudi Arabia is dispatching its petroleum minister.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also opted not to attend the impromptu climate summit this week. Abbott is currently chair of the G20 and is joining with other developed countries to block efforts to impose global regulations to stop global warming.
Even the PR impact of the march will be mired by photos of communist and socialist propaganda being hoisted by activists. Virtually all of the increases in carbon dioxide emissions will come from developing nations which heavily rely on coal, gas and oil to fuel their economic growth, a reason why they have opted not to attend this week’s summit.
In place of a global agreement there will be more rhetoric from Obama and delegates whose countries have already imposed harsh regulations to limit carbon dioxide emissions to stem potential warming. Obama already imposed crippling carbon dioxide cuts to U.S. power plants and has plans to crack down on methane emissions as well.
But Obama’s climate international climate goals hinge on domestic action to spur international efforts. By cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the administration hopes show Americans are serious about the issue and prompt other countries to emulate the example. So far, big emitters like China and India have shown little willingness to cut fossil fuel use.
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