A Insider’s Perspective on Oakland’s Climate Rally
I already felt a hum of excitement in the air as I walked down 12th street in Oakland. I fell in with a crowd of people carrying signs with captions like “There is no planet B” or “Ban Fracking Now.” There was a sense of camaraderie as we walked toward the Lake Merritt park amphitheater to join the bustling crowd of demonstrators. This climate rally, on September 21st, was organized to support the New York march encouraging UN summit leaders to take action on decisions about climate change. Judging by the number of people who attended, I would say it was a success.
A huge crowd amassed in the park, almost completely covering the grassy area next to the lake. Tents peppered the lawn, representing many different organizations, each focusing on different issues related to climate change and the government’s role in making a difference. Many groups were fighting to change legislation on issues related to the climate. A man with a clipboard approached me to sign a petition to tighten up regulations for nuclear power. There were many other petitioners as well. There were groups advocating for wildlife such as bees and other animals. These people were tackling a diverse array of issues, including the disappearance of the rainforest and genetically modifying crops, which is resulting in the death of bees. Many were focused on specific practices, such as fracking, or banning the XL pipeline. There were also organizations of anarchists, communists, and socialists, focused on changing the capitalist system to alter how we face environmental issues. Apart from the few global warming deniers who arrived in a confrontational manner, the rest of the crowd was comprised of conscientious citizens willing to demonstrate for causes in which they believe.
While there, I saw some current College Prep students showing their solidarity. There were a few scattered sophomores, juniors, and seniors learning about different issues and taking in the scene. It is great that these students expressed their solidarity with the movement for climate change—one of the most pressing environmental issues in the political arena. Climate change has been shown to have a significant effect on the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, from the year 1750-2011 the amount of carbon in parts per million molecules has increased from 278 ppm- 390 ppm, and is rising to unprecedented levels in the entire history of Earth. The amount of methane and nitrogen has significantly increased as well, contributing to the Green House Effect, which causes global warming. Global warming has caused a rapid rise in sea level, 0.19 meters from 1901-2011, and will continue to rise at a faster rate than it has before. Total loss of the mass of glaciers worldwide is estimated at 226 gigatons (or a kilometer cubed) per year from 1971-2009. All of these sobering statistics reiterate how necessary it is for us to take action.
While the demonstration lacked a clear unifying goal, its success was in the common desire for change in issues affecting our planet and our spirit of cooperation. Being part of this crowd that cared so much was a thrilling experience. By demonstrating for their different causes, people spread awareness and knowledge about the issues at hand, sowing the seeds of hope in working together for a better tomorrow. Our planet needs us!