Just as world leaders begin to assemble in New York for Ban Ki Moon’s summit to discuss how to increase global action to confront global warming, over 100,000 people took to the city’s streets demanding they do more than talk. Most of those leaders have been woefully behind the curve, but this may finally be the occasion upon which they have to listen and pay attention to citizens, who in growing numbers are calling for action. The devastating effects of the ongoing drought in California, the tragic impacts of Hurricane Sandy, and dozens of other extreme weather events have pushed public concern over a tipping point. Even the long silent Obama administration has begun to spend some political capital on the issue, with the President and his EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy sharply proclaiming public health threats from climate change like soaring asthma rates, the economic impacts of droughts and floods, and the moral irresponsibility of inaction.
This is a much larger and more diverse crowd than we have ever seen assemble on climate change, anywhere. Parallel events are being organized around the world, including in London and Rio de Janeiro. The past two decades of “active inaction” by the world’s nations shows that action on this difficult problem will not progress without a powerful social movement to demand it. As the old bumper sticker once said, “If the people lead, eventually the leaders will follow.”
Failing that, we’re in for some very rough weather.
This article was originally published here.