The Climate March: Will It Be a Call to Arms for the Earth, or Are More Radical Actions Needed?

Two opposing viewpoints from the event's organizer and an activist journalist.

September 8, 2014 | Source: Alternet | by Bill McKibben and Chris Hedges

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our New York News page.

On September 21, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to march in New York and other cities across the globe to pressure world leaders to take more aggressive action on global warming. The organizers of the  People’s Climate March believe it will be one of the biggest social-change marches in history.

The march precedes a United Nations Climate Summit – a meeting of world leaders in New York – by two days. Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. Secretary General has said he hopes the summit will inject momentum in reaching a global deal on greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015, when leaders will convene again in Paris.

Organizers think the demonstration will send a message to the assembled world powers that swift and dynamic action must be taken (China and India will not be represented).

But not everyone in the enviornmental and progressive movement thinks the organized march is the best way to create the needed social change. Chris Hedges, the activist journalist who writes for the news website Truthdig, likens the rally, which will be nowhere near the United Nations building, to a big “climate-change street fair” and laments that anyone can join. This means organizations such as the Climate Group and the Environmental Defense Fund, which include chemical, banking and oil interests among their members and supporters, will be represented at the march.

“These faux environmental organizations are designed to neutralize resistance,” says Hedges. “And their presence exposes the march’s failure to adopt a meaningful agenda or pose a genuine threat to power.”

Hedges hopes the real march comes later, after the organized march is disbanded, and it won’t be limited to a designated demonstration area far from the U.N. Hedges anticipates that more radical social-change organizations will descend on New York to take more significant direct action.

Bill McKibben, the environmental writer and founder of, an environmental organization that raises awareness about the risks of climate change, says the Climate March is “the only way we’ll change any of these equations, here or elsewhere.”

McKibben argues that an organized and diverse populist movement is the best way to demonstrate that there’s a growing consensus against man-made climate change.

McKibben joined Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! late last month to talk about climate change and to promote the Climate March, of which is a core sponsor. Below are ​​excerpts from the interview. Following th​e ​transcript is Chris Hedges​’​ retort, a column he wrote on August 31, in which he argues that climate activists need to take more aggressive actions.