Why? Because our grandchildren’s future is at stake and thousands of people from all over North America are sending a message to world leaders. At least five chartered buses are travelling from Toronto alone. The March starts at Central Park and world leaders in the General Assembly of the nearby United Nations headquarters will, we hope, take note of this outpouring over the climate crisis. We know that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will urge leaders to take greater action than we did to defeat the Nazis in World War II.
We will be joined in New York by James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute, and author of Storms of My Grandchildren, along with a dozen of our grandparent friends from Norway. Bill McKibben, who started <350.org> (the organizers of the march) and James Hansen have been champions of the battle to bring about clean energy. And battle it has been. The Bush Administration even cut out parts of Hansen’s early report before releasing it !
Nonetheless, like other grandparents, my wife and I are looking forward to a positive future for all grandchildren. And the march on Sept. 21st could be the start of a quiet revolution as all of us begin to comprehend what the space travellers have told us for years: there is only one fragile, jewel of a planet and we have the responsibility to care for it, not poison it or exploit it.
Our four grandchildren know that solar/photovoltaics and wind, not hydro, provide the power for our off-grid house not far from Pearson Airport. But they don’t know that in February of this year over 80% of new generating capacity in the U.S.A. came from solar and wind. Nor do they know about the huge number of institutions in the U.S. and Canada which are getting rid of their investments in fossil fuel corporations.
Even if a million marchers descend on Manhattan on Feb. 21st, filling a large section of Fifth Avenue, we might still end up with another Copenhagen: that is, no legal obligations to reduce greenhouse gases radically. We all know there is enormous pressure to maintain the status quo. But our hope is that our leaders will show the courage to face up to civilization’s dire threat – and recognize the warning signals from the climate disruption which we are already experiencing.
Hiking in our spectacular parks with our grandchildren, canoeing in our vast wilderness, and skiing in this magnificent country are just some of the pursuits our grandchildren must be able to enjoy in the decades to come. On our grandchildren’s behalf, we seniors have already marched with other grandparents in Ottawa and Toronto, but Manhattan will signal to our leaders that they must ACT NOW.