Washington, DC - According to protest organizers, more than 50,000 people joined the massive "Forward on Climate" rally here Feb. 17. Organized by 350.org, the Sierra Club, Hip Hop Caucus and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the rally was the largest protest in U.S. history addressing the issue of climate change. Many participants were students.
"For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work. We shouldn't have to be here - science should have decided our course long ago. But it takes a movement to stand up to all that money," said 350.org founder Bill McKibben.
Protesters demanded President Obama reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This pipeline has been the target of a growing movement of environmental justice activists, indigenous peoples, and other progressives. It is within President Obama’s power to stop the project.
"The Yinka Dene Alliance of British Columbia is seeing the harm from climate change to our peoples and our waters," said Chief Jacqueline Thomas, immediate past Chief of the Saik’uz First Nation in British Columbia and co-founder Yinka Dene Alliance (People of the Earth). "We see the threat of taking tar sands out of the Earth and bringing it through our territories and over our rivers. The harm being done to people in the tar sands region can no longer be Canada’s dirty secret. We don’t have the billions of dollars that industry has. But we do have our faith that people will do the right thing to protect Mother Earth. The Forward on Climate Rally shows that we are not alone in the fight to stop tar sands expansion and tackle climate change."
Protesters also demanded that the Obama administration take action to cut carbon emissions from power plants.