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People’s Climate March in NYC matters to Rochester, NY

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Two buses and a train full of Rochester folks will be heading to New York City for the September 21st People’s Climate March. This demonstration, likely to be the largest ever on Climate Change, will be an expression of the public’s will to get their leaders to prepare responsibly for a warming world. Adapting to and mitigating Climate Change should be humanity’s top priority. But for far too long our media has treated Climate Change as a special interest, failing to adequately inform the public of the most important issue of our time. Our politics, which is supposed to hone in on the issues most important to the public, has been paralyzed by anti-science ideology on this worldwide crisis. Government agencies, which manage and update our various infrastructures, are preparing us for the wrong future. And the public feels helpless, trying to decide how to influence something as overwhelming as Climate Change. The People’s Climate March is the public event which will affect change on a level that will actually matter. This may be the last chance for mitigation to play a real part in solving this crisis. It’s 2014; at the present trajectory, we’re are not going to keep global temperatures at the world consensus, and more changing of light bulbs won’t do the trick.

There will be hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, including over 750+ myriad groups, marching through the streets of Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon demanding that our leaders (including President Obama) make responsible choices at the UN Climate Change Summit in NYC, so that this time we can reach a worldwide binding treaty in Paris in 2015 on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions —and doing so equitably. These climate talks have failed over twenty times, but if they fail again in Paris, we will lose our last chance to bring GHG down emissions before worldwide catastrophic disruption to our life support system. Not to mention a world warming up ten times faster than the Holocene will be pretty darn inconvenient, eventually impossible to adapt to.

Historically, only when people go to the streets in large numbers do their leaders begrudgingly shift their attention from everyday politics, the interests of the few and powerful, and begin the hard work of democracy. Gay rights, women’s rights, living wages, racial equality, and many more critical issues only made progress after being kickstarted by ordinary folks like you taking it to the streets. Climate Change is the mother of all critical issues: no future, no critical issues.

Like many places this year , Rochester NY has enjoyed a moderate summer because of the two giant cool spots in an otherwise very warm July. This kind of local weather anomaly tends to distract the public from the global warming trends. Yet, instead of frequent heatwaves this year, our region has been nailed with extreme flooding that has put a lot of raw sewage into our Great Lakes waters and jeopardized local crops. Frequent heavy flooding is one of the predictions of climate studies for our region. But the local press doesn’t mention that.

Because Climate Change doesn’t lend itself to short, pithy sound bites, only continual reporting by local media can lift the shroud of indifference that covers Rochester, and too many more communities. This indifference means the public begins to believe that addressing and mitigating Climate Change can be put off. It cannot. Climate Change is not about scaremongering, it’s about planning so the worst doesn’t happen. For one example, right now the Genesee Transportation Council (GTC) is planning for our local transportation infrastructure updates (fixing roads, bridges, and accommodating active transportation) covering the period of 2015 through 2040.They want your input. But even though we’ll be well into the consequences of Climate Change in our region by that time (more frequent extreme flooding, heat waves that wreak havoc on pavement not designed for that, and the cause of 27% of our GHGs) nary a mention of all that. This means the GTC will probably have to scrap the new plans right after they make them and redo them for a warmer Rochester.

Also, local media reports on fights over lake levels without bringing in Climate Change, which will ultimately determine the lake levels anyway. Though our region is experiencing more dangerous algae outbreaks in our lakes, more cases of Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, more ash borers killing our ash trees, more sewage entering the Great Lakes because of flooding, a longer growing season, and more whacky weather, all of which are connected to Climate Change, our local media does not connect this to Climate Change—nor our local governmental agencies for that matter. Consideration of any clean energy policy by the state that will keep more GHGs out of our atmosphere has been hijacked by the Fracking (more freaking fossil fuels) issue. It’s gonna be hard to keep pace with swatting every fly if someone doesn’t shut the door.

To shut that door, as it were, to mitigate Climate Change, to wake up our media, our leaders, and our neighbors, we call on the public to come to the People’s Climate March in New York City on September, 21st. If you cannot come, we call on you to donate so more can come. We also call on the public to: create or join a local PCM event, write letters to the editors of your media about this march, get involved, comment on articles in local media that don’t connect the dots, press community leaders to inform the public and to base community planning on Climate Change, to read some of the many climate studies for expert information, and (quite frankly) to give a shit about Climate Change.

Damn the excuses and full speed ahead to the People’s Climate March and then to Paris 2015. You can find out how to get to the People’s Climate March from Rochester, NY by going here: http://peoplesclimate.org/westernny/.

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