Step Forward

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the People’s Climate March in New York City, the historic demonstration against the savagery of the fossil fuel industry and its felonious assault against the health of our planet and its people. As long as I live, I will never forget what it was like to be among the 400,000 concerned citizens who made their voices heard at the center of media, cultural, political and financial power.

I wanted to hug everyone I met that day, wanted to thank them for taking time out of their busy schedules to take a stand for climate justice. Unless you were there, you can’t truly envision what it was like to be surrounded by so much love, so much compassion, so much wisdom, so much joy, so much optimism, so much hope. On that day, it felt as though all traces of cynicism had been eliminated from the world.

I never wanted the march to end. I never wanted to leave. I wanted to live in that moment. I think every man, woman and child who attended wanted the same thing.

Looking back, I would submit to you that the march didn’t actually end. The moment never stopped. The movement never stopped. We’re still marching.

If we weren’t still marching, the United States and China would not have struck a deal to curb carbon pollution.

If we weren’t still marching, there would not be strong support among the American public for federal efforts to limit emissions.

If we weren’t still marching, the state of New York would not have banned fracking.

If we weren’t still marching, the prospects of the White House approving the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would not be dim, four years after it was said to be a certainty.

It we weren’t still marching, the fossil-fuel divestment movement would not be as dominant as it is now.

If we weren’t still marching, President Obama would not have become so aggressive in combating climate change as his second term draws to a close.

If we weren’t still marching, the Koch brothers would not plan to dump nearly $900 million into the 2016 election in an effort to blunt our political and cultural impact.

If we weren’t still marching, other Republican donors would not be getting nervous about the long-term political consequences of GOP climate denial.

We’re still marching. We’re still rallying. On September 24, as Pope Francis addresses Congress, an estimated 200,000 climate activists will rally on the National Mall, calling for strong and speedy action to address the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time.

We’re still marching. We’re still rallying. We’re still fighting. We’re going to keep fighting to ensure a bold international climate deal is struck in Paris this December. We’re going to keep fighting to ensure that unnecessary fracked-gas pipelines are not built. We’re going to keep fighting to ensure that powerful elected officials and powerful media entities acknowledge the importance of clean energy, clean water and clean air. We’re going to keep fighting until coal, oil and natural gas are kept in the ground where they belong.

We’re going to keep fighting—and damn it, we’re going to win.

UPDATE: More from Richard Wolffe.

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D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.