BY: TYLER FYFE
PHOTOS BY: CONNOR BRIAN
Just two days before world leaders are scheduled to debate environmental action at the United Nations Climate Summit, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to cities around the world in The People’s Climate March. In NYC alone, there were 400,000 protesters in attendance, making it the largest climate march ever enacted in the history of the United States. In Toronto, thousands more united in solidarity to protest Canadian oil sector expansion.
The protest was mobilized by a partnership between 350.org and Avaaz.org with the help of Greenpeace, who provided their warehouse to shelter the creation of banners and signs in order to provide safe haven against censorship.
With the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline approval posing major threats to First Nations land claims, ecosystem stability and the commercial fishing industry, there were many interest chanting in a singular voice “PLANET OVER PROFITS.”
Though it was the first pipeline approved,it is just a straw in a haystack of proposals. Next up to bat is the TransCanada Energy East pipeline proposal, which would see a 4,600 kilometer pipeline carry 1.1 million barrels per day from Alberta to refineries in Eastern Canada. According to Keith Brooks, the clean economy program director of Environmental Defence, emissions from production and transportation would be equivalent to the pollution of an additional seven million cars.
As Stephen Leahy, an international environmental journalist, phrased it in his keynote speech during the march, “economy and environment are two sides of the same coin.”
During the United Nations Climate Conference that took place in Copenhagen in 2009, Professor Shnellnhuber—the director and founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research—briefed President Obama on the dangerous implications of climate change and the impact of fossil-fuel reliance. At the end of the speech, Obama turned to his advisors, who said, “Yes, but we need a politically realistic approach to climate change, not a scientific one.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2013 that human activity is responsible for the changing land surface properties as a result of atmospheric concentrations of aerosols and greenhouse gases. In the past five years, the federal government has dismissed more than 2,000 scientists, and budget cutbacks will likely force the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to shut down at least 11 of its libraries by 2015.
Emmay Mah, an organizer and facilitator of The People’s Climate March Toronto, said, “It’s not just one or two scientists, it’s an entire body of evidence being deliberately ignored.”
While forgoing the warnings of Doctor John O’Connor—who nearly lost his medical licence after drawing attention to the alarming rates of rare forms of cancer among the Fort Chipewyan First Nations—political propagandist Ezra Levant seems to still be going strong with a Sun Media career built on sucking up and spitting out whatever drips beneath Stephen Harper’s waistline.
Yesterday’s global protest marks a historical movement in the acknowledgment of a global climate crisis and the rising of a public that refuses to be ignored by those elected to represent their best interests. Arguments grounded in exclusively economics are becoming limper —recently, UBS, the world’s largest private bank, urged investors to support renewable energy initiatives.
Protestors from all labels of socio-economic status, race, religion, and political affiliation s stood united by the fact that global warming does not pick favourites. Although Stephen Harper has chosen to skip the UN Climate Summit for something more important, the People’s Climate March cannot simply be called a protest. Yesterday was a moment of awareness.