“Let’s Be Bold”: what one Jersey City resident says about climate change

As the United Nations Summit on Climate Change moves forward, NY Environment Report is highlighting the voices of the over 400,000 demonstrators who walked the streets of Manhattan Sunday to demand action.

Every demonstrator -young or old, man or woman- has a unique perspective on the issue; all are linked by a sense of deep urgency. Yesterday, we featured the thoughts of Michael Turi, a “citizen activist” from Long Island, who argued that local action on climate change can be the basis for a long-term global solution.

Today, we listen to Steven Jones, a new resident of Jersey City, who told us, “the first step is…global awareness and consciousness. We have to start a movement..[and have] conservations at home, with our family, with our friends, anybody we have any type of civic interaction with. That’s what has to start first.”

 

 

“We have to do this to push the legislators, the corporations, and everybody else to…affect change and policy,” Jones continued. “I look at this [the People’s Climate March] as the first step of a group of people that are conscious and aware coming together to stimulate that impetus for change in the future.”

“To be is to do,” observed Jones. “I believe there is hope because we always have a chance to do– to impact change…When I stop believing in hope is the day I don’t want to get up and live anymore.”

“New York City is bold. It went through 9/11. Let’s be bold and impact the world, and force climate change to be a real initiative so it will be in the forefront of our minds at all times going forward. Because it will affect us in the future,” he concluded.

What We Heard from Long Island Climate Activists on Sunday: Start Local

In the wake of Sunday’s landmark Climate March, the United Nations has begun deliberations that are supposed to lead to a new set of carbon emissions limits next year. How can the voices from Sunday’s march penetrate the halls of the U.N.?

The hundreds of grassroots, community-based organizations who marched say they are paving the way for global climate action by creating a broad base of support at the local level.

Michael Turi of Nassau County People’s Climate spoke with NY Environment Report about the impact of climate change on the Southern Shore of Long Island, and the group’s hopes for the U.N. climate summit. Turi described the group as “citizen activists” who “care about the environment and [are] showing it with their feet.”

 

 

What’s the Long Island grassroots strategy for obtaining meaningful action on climate change, we asked Turi. “There needs to be enough of a message [from Sunday’s march] so they [political leaders] can go back and get the buy-in of the people who they represent,” he answered.

“And those people will tell their leaders: this is important to us; this is what matters; this is real. It’s affecting everybody and it’s already started and it’s only going to get worse and more expensive, and we need to spend the time dealing with it now to prevent what could happen later.”

This philosophy of building pressure from below applies to political leaders across the globe, said Turi. He added that the cumulative power of environmental action at the local level should not be under-estimated.

“We’re participating in something larger than ourselves today but it’s important to act where you are,” Turi stressed.

“There are environmental issues locally in every community that need to be addressed including as pertains to climate change…We care about climate change in Nassau County, and that’s where we’re going to act upon it. All of these people …[at the march] they’re from somewhere. If everyone acts where they are, that adds up to a lot of trench and action.”

 

Throughout the week we will be posting audio recordings of interviews with participants at Sunday’s Climate March. We think that the marchers -and their experiences dealing with local environmental issues- represent an enormous collective resource.

New Yorkers Brought the World Together Sunday to Fight Climate Change

The streets of Manhattan were shut down to traffic Sunday, and taken over by environmental activists from around the world. Young and old, from the Bronx to Alaska, they came with one message: we are prepared to fight for our collective future.

The message was aimed –in part- at the United Nations, which begins discussions this week on a new global carbon emissions treaty. But Sunday’s march was also a long-term call to action to every man, woman and child.

400,000+ Attend The March

Over 400,000 strong, this sea of people –with colorful signs, floats, chants and songs– moved down Central Park West and through midtown. The mood was both incredibly upbeat and “peaceful,” as one police officer said to me.

The demonstrators at the People’s Climate March are the human face of a profound crisis: the earth’s very ability to sustain human life is now in question. Many spoke to us about the deep urgency of the situation. Others pointed to the fact that solidarity climate actions took place in over 160 countries Sunday.

Children were quite visible at the march, holding signs and helping with floats. The presence of the very old and very young in the crowds was particularly moving.

A young marcher from Coney Island
A young marcher from Coney Island

What was also striking was how demonstrators linked local environmental issues to the global climate crisis.

Whether we were discussing the proliferation of natural gas pipelines across New Jersey, receding glaciers in Alaska, river ecosystems threatened by oil exploration in Northern Canada, or the impact of Hurricane Sandy on Long Island, the people we spoke with were very clear in their analysis: it’s time to end our use of fossil fuels now.

Perhaps the most interesting and captivating part of the march was that the participants came armed with solutions. Wherever we turned, there were posters and floats that explained how a clean energy economy can be put into existence immediately. Many said to us that the technology and know-how to end our use of fossil fuels is available now; what is missing is the political will.

Voices from the People’s Climate March

Throughout this week, we will be posting audio recordings of our interviews with march participants, from a 13-year old girl living in Massachusetts to the Green Party’s candidate for New York State Governor.

Every demonstrator has a unique story, but all saw themselves as part of a historic -and global- movement.

Rafael, a twenty-five year old from the Bronx, spoke to us about the fact that, “for far too long we’ve been ignoring this issue…maybe finally our generation will be the first generation…to see what we’re doing to this planet.”

“Politicians need to stop worrying about how they look in the media and start worrying about the actual real issues,” Rafael continued. “Change is coming…we’re all together…together we can make an impact.”

 

 

NYC’s Role In Fighting Climate Change

We also had the opportunity to speak with Nik Sekhran, Chief of Sustainable Development for the United Nations Development Program. Sekhran spoke about the role that New York City plays in finding a solution to climate change.

nik sekrahn un
Nik Sekhran, Chief of Sustainable Development for the United Nations Development Program

“The challenge that we’ve [the U.N.] got is to make sure that collective contribution [in terms of global emissions cuts] is sufficient to avoid calamitous climate change,” Sekhran said. “How do we get to the level of ambition that we need?”

“That’s why an event like this is so important here in New York City. There’s over a hundred thousand people here; this matters to people and ultimately for leaders to take note and to bring to the table good proposals and to make meaningful progress.”

“New York City residents tend to be very progressive,” Sekhran continued. “The City has made huge headway in terms of its waste management systems and its conservation programs…We need to show the world what New York is doing…[Climate change] it’s a very, real significant threat to New York, and because of that…New Yorkers can make a major difference. People hear what New Yorkers say.”

 

 More Climate March Coverage

Want to see more of the March? Check out our big batch of photos from the day.

One of the many good signs at the People's Climate March
One of the many signs at the People’s Climate March

This is Going to be Big

Environmental groups, and concerned citizens of every stripe, will be coming from all over the U.S. to the People’s Climate March on September 21st in New York City.

The march is being organized in response to the U.N. Climate Summit which will be taking place in New York that week.

Organizers at 350NYC released an extensive list last week of local groups that have signed on to the march. Organizers say demonstrators will “take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.”

“It’s been a long time since our city has seen an action with goals this ambitious,” said Pat Almonrode of 350NYC. “This September, New York really will be the center of the world. Let’s show them what we’ve got.”

New York and New Jersey groups that have endorsed the People’s Climate March

350 Jersey Shore
350NJ
350NYC
Advent Lutheran church
Auburn Seminary
Awakening the Dreamer New York – New Jersey
B’nai Jeshurun
Bangladesh Environment Network
Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice
BAYAN
Black Rose NYC
Blauvelt Dominican Sisters Social Justice Committee
BlueWaveNJ
Bowdoin Climate Action
Brooklyn Food Coalition
Brooklyn For Peace
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Buddhist Association of the United States
Build It Green!NYC
Camp Kinderland
Center and Library for the Bible for Social Justice
Center for Environmental Health
Center for Law and Social Justice, Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War
Central Queens YM & YWHA
Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal), Manhattan
Citizen Action of NY
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism
Clarence Fitch Chapter, Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Clean Water Action
Climate Reality
ClimateMama
Coalition Against Nukes
Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline
CODA (Coalition for a District Alternative)
Community Voices Heard
Concerned Families of Westchester
Concrete Safaris
Congregation Ansche Chesed
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
Congregation Beth Elohim
Congregations for Peace and Justice
Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action at Manhattanville College, Purchase,NY
CUNY Center god Urban Environmental Reform
CUNY Divest
CUNY Divest
Damayan Migrant Workers Association
Democratic Socialists of America
Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt, NY, Social Justice Committee
Earth Matters @ NYU
Earth Vigil
East Midwood JCC
East Midwood Jewish Center
Eco Practicum
Eco-Logic, WBAI-FM
Ecosocialist Horizons
Eden Village Camp
Empower Sheepshead Recover Coalition
Environmental Advocates of New York
Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County
Fair Pay Music
Faith in New York
Faith in New York
Falconworks Artists Group
Fifth Avenue Committee
First Congregational Church of Montclair
Fort Greene Peace
Fossil Free & Green NY
Frack Action
Frack Free Catskills
Freedom Socialist Party
Gods House TV
Good Jobs New York
Granny Peace Brigade
Grassroots Environmental Education
Greater NYC for Change
Green Building Center
Green Hybrid Energy Solutions Inc.
Green Map System
Green Muslims of New Jersey (GMNJ)
Green Schools Alliance
Green Schools Alliance
Habonim Dror North America
Healing Arts New York
HealthyPlanet
Hebrew Union College
Hillcrest Jewish Center
Hofstra University Sustainability Studies
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Inwood
Honest Weight Food Co-op
Hudson River Presbytery
Human Impacts Institute
Impact Hub NY
International Indian Treaty Council
Ironbound Community Corporation
JCC on the Hudson
Jewish Climate Campaign
Jewish Community Center of Staten Island
Jewish Theological Seminary
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jews For Racial & Economic Justice
Judson Memorial Church
Just Food
Kapiwolf
Kinnelon Conserves
Kolot Chayeinu
Left Labor Project
LJ Leach Movement Arts
Long Island Citizens
Long Island MoveOn.org
Long Island Progressive Coalition
Lower Eastside Girls Club
Manhattan Central Medical Society, a local affiliate of the National Medical Association
Metro NY Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism
Minisink Matters
Mission & Social Justice Commission of The Riverside Church, NYC
Missionaray Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Moms Clean Air Force
Montclair Citizens Climate Lobby
Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE)
Multicultural Resource Center
NACCE
NAFCON – National Alliance For Filipino Concerns
National Audubon Society
National Jobs for All Coalition
New Economy Project
New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club
New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance
New Jersey Highlands Coalition
New Jersey Sustainable Collegiate Partners – and I also represent the Town of Secaucus
New York City Community Garden Coalition
New York Conference United Church of Christ
New York Environmental Law and Justice Project
New York Insight Meditation Center
New York Interfaith Power & Light
New York League of Conservation Voters
New York Passive House
New York Public Interest Research Group/NYPIRG
New York Society for Ethical Culture
New York Sun Works
New York Yearly Meeting (Quakers)
New Yorkers Against Fracking
Newark Community Meditation Center
No Impact Project
North American Climate,Conservation and Environment (NACCE)
North Country 350 Alliance
North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
Northwest Bronx for Change
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
NY/NJ Baykeeper
NYC Friends of Clearwater
NYC Metro Raging Grannies
NYC War Resisters League
NYCOSH
NYMetro Raging Grannies
NYU Divest
NYU Wagner Alliance for Climate and Environment
Occupy Network
Office of Peace, Justice and Ecological Integrity, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
Pace University Academy for Applied Environmental Studies
Pace University Center for Community Action and Research
Park Slope Jewish Center
Park Slope United Methodist Church
Park Slope United Methodist Church
Passaic Pedal.EA
Pax Christi Metro New York
Peace Action
People for a Healthy Environment (PHE)
People’s World
Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro
Physicians for a National Health Program – NY Metro
Physicians for Social Responsibility, New York
Pratt Institute Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development
Presbyterians for Earth Care
Professional Staff Congress-CUNY AFT Local 2334
Queens Community for Cultural Judaism
Rainforest Relief
Reclaim
Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore
Red Button
Reform Temple of Forest Hills
Repair the World
Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping
Revolution Books NYC
Right to the City Alliance
Riverdale Jewish Community Relations Council
Riverdale Yonkers Ethical Culture Society
Riverdale Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture
Riverkeeper
Riverside Church Beloved Earth Community
ROAR (Religious Organizations Along the River)
Rockland Sierra Club
Romemu
Roseland Against the Compressor Station (RACS)
Rosenthal JCC
Rutgers Students for Environmental Awareness
S.A.V.E.- Students Against a Vanishing Environment
Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus
Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church (Manhattan)
Saint Peter’s University Social Justice Program
Shut Down Indian Point Now!
Sisters of Charity of New York Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation
Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood New York
Social Enterprise Program, Columbia Business School
Socialist Party USA
South Bronx Unite
South Brooklyn Youth Consortium
Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
Stockton Action Volunteers for the Environment (S.A.V.E.)
Stony Brook University Environmental Club
Stop the Minisink Compressor Station
Sumzine Magazine
Sunday Assembly New York
Surprise Lake Camp
Sustainable Cherry Hill
Sustainable Warwick
Sustainable Warwick
Temple Avodat Shalom
Temple Israel Center
The Climate Mobilization
The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families
The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County
The Franciscan Response (North Jersey chapter)
The Interfaith Center of New York
The JCC in Manhattan
The Lower Eastside Girls Club
The Micah Institute @ New York Theological Seminary
The Mothers Project
The POOP Project
The Rabbinical Assembly
The Reform Temple of Forest Hills
The Society for the Advancement of Judaism
The Suffolk Resolves Blog
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook
The Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources
The YA-YA Network (Youth Activist Youth Allies)
Time’s Up!
Unitarian Church in Summit
Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock
Unitarian Universalist Metro NY District
United Confederation of Taino People
United for Action
United for Action
United Nations Association of the USA Southern New York State Division
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Urban Green Council
UU Legislative Ministry of New Jersey
Village Independent Democrats
VOCAL New York
War Resisters League
Waterkeeper Alliance
WE ACT for Environmental Justice
West End Synagogue
Westchester Jewish Council
White Plains Zen
Women’s Environment and Development Organization
World Beyond War
Young Judaea
Zen Center of NYC Earth Initiative

NYC to Host International Climate Summit

The United Nations will host an International Climate Summit in New York City this September.

The core goal for the summit is to “mobilize political will for an ambitious global legal agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature”.

In response, environmentalists of all stripes will take to the streets of New York on September 21st in what is being described as the largest climate march in history.

Last month, after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Mayor de Blasio made the following statement about the summit:

“We’re very excited that in September, the UN will host the climate change summit. A crucial moment for this world, literally one of the moments where we believe there’s an opportunity for real progress on what is arguably one of the most fundamental issues facing the entire globe.

The secretary-general has been such a strong voice, pushing nations of the world to grapple with this issue and take action. And we think the summit is a chance to propel that forward. New York City is honored to be hosting the event, honored to contribute to it in any way we can. And we hope to offer our own examples of what we’re doing in sustainability that we hope will be useful to cities around the world.”