the people’s anti-fracking march
September 24, 2014
“We always think we’re alone,” said Kendall Hale of Asheville, NC, marveling at the crowd amassing along the west side of Central Park near 81st Street for the People’s Climate March. “That’s why we have to come together here.”
Now we know. Now the world knows. We are not alone.
As many as 400,000 people took over mid-Manhattan on Sunday calling for an end to an economy fueled by exhumed dinosaur-era plants and animals whose combustion is disrupting our climate. An end to ever more extreme techniques to blast oil, gas and coal from our land and beneath our seas. The outpouring combined street carnival, marching band, costume party, dance, theater, art extravaganza, and protest. So many marched that those toward the back half of the crowd waited until at least 2 p.m. to move forward, long after the front half of this giant centipede took the first steps around 11:30 a.m. No matter though, because charter buses caught in traffic were delayed reaching drop-off points. Packed subway cars full of marchers and signs felt short on oxygen. The march was so long, we eventually got text messages to veer off the route many blocks before the overwhelmed streets at the finish.
Gathering just south of 81st Street was the contingent opposed to fracked gas, which the fossil fuel industry, most of the political machinery and even some major environmental groups have branded as a key piece of the solution to climate chaos. Our group was there to say we will not stand for swapping out one sacrifice zone, one health disaster, one means of climate suicide for another. We were there to expose the wrong-headed “all of the above” strategy that chases down the hardest-to-get fossil fuels and their harmful collateral. And digs us deeper into our climate hole. T-shirts and signs said Fracking = methane = climate crisis. Another sign: I am a father, not a sacrifice. And, Halliburton, go frack yourself. Natural gas is a fossil fuel. And Dethrone King CONG: Coal Oil Nuclear and Gas.
Many were there to stop fracking’s noxious conjoined twins: pipelines and compressor stations. Minisink marchers who continue to fight the compressor station built in their community had Ban Fracking Now signs. Others held signs to Stop the Enbridge experiment and Stop the Algonquin pipeline expansion. Several marchers carried a set of red pitchforks declaring Natural gas is worse than coal, Fracking makes a deal with the devil, and They get rich, we get cancer. Some signs condemned frac sand mining.
Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York’s Democratic primary with a no–fracking platform, walked through the contingent staging area, accepting hugs and thanks. Josh Fox, the director of the “GasLand” movies, marched with the group and posed for many photos with fans.
Children in the group passed the hours waiting to march by kicking around methane and carbon-dioxide molecules fashioned from black and white beach balls taped together. Thus, climate-wrecking methane — CH4 — had a black carbon beach ball at the center with four white hydrogen balls taped around it. Adults shook a huge parachute, and children ran under it with the molecules. Or the molecules bounced around on top, just as they leak from fracking wells and compressor stations and along gas pipelines. “Oh, my gosh! It’s climate chaos,” someone with a megaphone yelled.
At 12:58 p.m., silence overtook the crowd to remember communities already feeling the brunt of climate disruption. For two minutes, this mass of humanity stood, arms raised, with only the noise from a helicopter wup-wupping overhead. And then a wave of shouts and cheers emerged from the south, gaining strength as others joined in. The giant and crescendoing cry for swift action to save ourselves and all we love in this world. To dismantle the economic model that allows exorbitant profit for the few built on broken communities, ailing bodies, exhausted soils, poisoned streams, dying species, acidic oceans, and an unraveling climate system.
We started marching from 81st Street at 2:02 p.m. Hoisting a large cardboard LNG tanker and carrying it coffin-like through the streets were Tracey Eno, who’s fighting Dominion’s fracked-gas liquefaction and export facility in her Calvert County town; Steve Norris and Kendall Hare, who helped organize last summer’s Walk For Our Grandchildren and who were arrested at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this summer; Alex Lotorto from fracked Pennsylvania, who also was arrested at FERC. Along the side of the tanker were the words SS Dominion Titanic. Others carried an inflatable white pipeline, representing the pipelines that would carry fracked gas from the Marcellus shalefields to Dominion’s factory at Cove Point. Several wore bull’s eyes that read Not one sacrifice. Other signs said Fracked gas is not a bridge fuel and, on the flip side, Not an exit ramp either. New Yorkers, whose state, like Maryland, has so far stopped fracking at the border, led a chant: “We love New York; Don’t frack it up. And “We love the world. Don’t frack it up.”
An inflated Earth ball crowd-surfed its way along the route, not always kept aloft by often surprised marchers. A woman watching the march from the side held out a sign: Your grandchildren are more likely to die from climate change than from terrorism. A child held a sign: Sledding on grass isn’t fun. Others included: We raced to the moon; Let’s race to clean energy and Stop digging for the answer: Look up. And Windmills not weapons. Ride a bicycle, save an icicle. United for justice: We are all Maldivians. Corporate Fascism; see something, say something. Stop funding fossils: Divest from the fossil fuel industry + end subsidies. Farther forward in the march, a giant silver bomb of a float proclaimed US Military/Largest consumer of oil/Largest emitter of C02. Just behind was the Veterans for Peace marching band.
A large-screen Jumbotron at one point along the way showed similar marches in Paris and Melbourne, New Delhi and Bogota. In all, 350.org counted 2,808 solidarity events in 166 countries. We all said, enough, already. Enough.
Your thoughts: Many from Howard County boarded a bus in Columbia before dawn and under the sliver of a moon. Please post some comments with your thoughts on the march. If you had to miss it, what are your thoughts after reading coverage of the march?
What’s next: The People’s Climate March was just the beginning. Several days of actions at FERC are planned for the first week in November. Sign up at Beyond Extreme Energy. https://sites.google.com/site/beyondextremeenergy/ Endorsers include Bill McKibben and Sandra Steingraber.
Comment on the state’s fracking health study before Oct. 3 at 5 p.m.: Look over the study’s table of contents and find an area of concern to you. Then send comments to: email@example.com Several ClimateHoward blog posts explain the study, such as here and here. The Maryland Environmental Health Network has a written Topics for Consideration here. The Maryland researchers conducting the study found many areas of concern and numerous gaps in knowledge about fracking’s effects.