On Sunday, over 400,000 people showed up for the People’s Climate March, four times the estimated attendance. They gathered in New York City’s Central Park West between 59th and 86th streets – activists, organizations, actors, New Yorkers and everyday Americans – all to send a single message to the world leaders at tomorrow’s international climate summit: Human-caused climate change is real and it’s time humans did something about it.
That afternoon journalist Bill McKibben tweeted, “Remind any politician you see: this was the largest political gathering about anything in the US in a very very long time. About anything!” McKibben is the founder of 350.org, which led the People’s Climate March and organized the 1,500 groups that participated in the event.
McKibben was certain that President Obama, who will be attending the September 23 summit, was paying close attention to the march.
“You don’t get to be president of the United States by ignoring huge outpourings of public sentiment,” McKibben said.
But if Obama was watching, it wasn’t on network news. According to Politicus USA, cable news offered no live coverage of the event, even though three of its networks are either based or have bureaus in the area. How could they ignore 400,000 people marching through the city? Was it because there were no arrests or violent incidents, despite being one of the largest gatherings in New York history? Was it because the latest NFL scandal really needs more airtime? It’s difficult to say.
“It never ceases to amaze that a tea party rally featuring a dozen people can get more mainstream television coverage than a progressive march that features hundreds of thousands in the nation’s biggest city,” writes journalist Jason Easley.
But that is precisely what happened. “Meet the Press” didn’t mention it, and it received passing notice on CNN, Fox and MSNBC.
— People’s Climate (@Peoples_Climate) September 22, 2014
But in the streets, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon linked arms with marchers. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said he hoped it signaled a “turning point moment” for acknowledging climate change, and Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) were all in attendance, joined by former Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
“Summits sometimes spark great change,” said De Blasio, “rallies, protests sometimes spark great change. Sometimes they don’t. My sense is that the energy you’re seeing on the streets, the numbers that have amassed here and in other cities around the world suggest something bigger is going on.”