I didn’t have one of my nature walks Sunday, at least not the kind with solitude and a soundtrack of late summer birds and crickets amid a subdued Connecticut neighborhood. I did walk, very slowly, from 86th and Central Park West down to 34th and 11th, and I had lots of company. Almost 400,000!
I prefer my walks alone, but Tom and Gavin, and another 399,097 or so others came along to say something about climate change. I’ve been reading about nature and the earth long enough to know that this is not just a passing trendy belief. The climate really is changing, and not in favor of living things. There’s no longer a credible debate that says otherwise, and I was happy to see a lot of scientists, complete with lab coats, in what one recently interviewed joiner, the highly credentialed Peter deMenocal (Professor, Department Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University), proudly called “a nerd parade”.
People had lots of solutions and motives on their signs—they marched for the birds, for the arctic, for their grandchildren, for simple living, for socialism, for radical revolution, for conservation organizations, with their churches—a huge variety from confrontational (although as far as I know there was no violence) to peaceful, from tree huggers to pragmatists. But the group was united in that they recognize a genuine problem and are trying to raise awareness and push for solutions. And there are some solutions–but we are at a point now where governments must act to effect real change, along with each individual doing his or her part. Here’s a good summary of broad solutions by National Geographic. And here’s a link about actions to consider at your own individual level. The march preceded the UN Climate Change Summit, calling for urgent action, globally, in response to the problem.
The first arm of the People’s Climate Change March ran along Central Park West, and I liked looking up at the grassy hills, people climbing streetside boulders, and the ubiquitous pigeons, who seemed to be watching the noisy human display with great interest. A bug hitched a ride on Gavin’s sign for quite a few blocks, and I imagined him shouting “we are here!” (as in the iconic Horton Hears a Who), a microcosm of what the marchers were doing! We also enjoyed occasional trees and gardens perched atop some of the tony parkside buildings. Even in crowded Manhattan, nature has a way of inserting itself.
Back in CT a friend at work pointed out a stick bug hanging out by our office entrance. I’ve never seen one in “the wild” before—surely because they blend in so seamlessly with the plant life! Today a coworker’s kids reported to me that they saw a parakeet flying around outside, and in return I showed them my pictures of the stick bug.
Speaking of kids, they really are the future, although I risk sounding like an 80s pop song when I say that. But see for yourself: the winners of this video contest got to go to the UN Summit.