By Kevin Chiu and Fariha Rahman
The People’s Climate March (PCM) filled Midtown Manhattan on Sunday, September 21st, 2014. Over 100,000 people, including groups within New York City as well as from around the world came together to raise awareness about climate change. This “global day of action” was an attempt at placing public pressure on world leaders prior to the United Nations Climate Summit, which took place the following Tuesday, on September 23rd.
Key speakers at the summit included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, and popular actor Leonardo DiCaprio. They came to an agreement that the deterioration of the environment is a threat to global security.
“[It is] the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet,” stated DiCaprio, according to the Huffington Post. “It is a fact. The scientific community knows it, industry knows it, governments know it, even the United States military knows it….Now must be our moment for action.”
The PCM was heavily advertised throughout the NYC transit system with signs on trains, buses, and highway billboards. One such ad included an image of Lady Liberty drowning in the waters of New York Harbor, stating, “the next one won’t be biblical.”
Tech students and faculty have supported the PCM cause, adding to the ongoing, national conversation.
“I think everyone was surprised to see how many people care about this. I appreciate how celebrities use their fame for important issues, like climate change,” said Wandy Chang, a Career & Technology teacher. “[From] an architect’s point of view, I am concerned for how many fossil fuels will be used in the future to cool rooms.”
Julia Bates ’18 comments that the PCM has reached its goal of drawing attention to the issue at hand. “I see it all over the news. People everywhere are talking about the March. This is not something that will be quickly forgotten.”
Some Tech students participated in the march, like seniors Nsilo Mavour and Nowshen Pranti.
Mavour ’15, a Law and Society major, felt it was his duty to participate and uphold human rights. He believes PCM successfully showed the outcome of a collective effort. Yet, he does not feel that the UN has dedicated enough effort at resolving this pressing issue. “I would hope that global leaders will finally do something good for all of us, but I know that won’t happen. The oil industry has too much money in politics and will never let anything happen.”
Similarly, Pranthi ’15, a College Prep major, voices her discontent with the march. She believes that most people came with a vague idea of the threat of climate change without internalizing the real issue. “They came for the hype. It’s a climate march for godsake! I saw people smoking, littering, etc. There were people disrespecting the indigenous people contingent. The climate march didn’t change anything. There was no specific demand or target.”
Certain groups however, took it upon themselves to actively engage the people at the PCM. According to The New York Times, Avaaz, an international civic engagement group, successfully created a petition with over 2.1 million signatures of people demanding action.
Awareness was also raised through art. The Times coverage featured a group of Japanese sculptors from Queens. They had carved a giant ice block, engraving the words: ‘THE FUTURE.’ The ice block was placed outside of the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue the day of the march, becoming symbolic of the idea that “the future is melting away.”
“I hope this march will bring some more awareness to preventing additional waste into the school system. [We can] make a difference right at Tech by recycling,” says Nazrin Akther ’16.
The PCM has left the Tech community in deep contemplation of the health of our planet. And as Pranthi ’15 puts it, “we kind of need IT for US to survive.”