Organizers called it the largest climate rally in U.S. history, and it was. Depending on who you ask, there were 30,000, 40,000, even 50,000 people in Washington, D.C., Sunday to lobby for political action on climate change. Depending on who you ask, the tone was joyous or righteous. And depending on who you ask, those 30,000, 40,000, even 50,000 people were giving President Obama an angry demand, a stern but friendly prodding, or the "support he needs" to take action.
350.org, the Sierra Club, the Hip Hop Caucus, and a comprehensive list of basically anyone in the U.S. who cares about climate change joined with politicians, investors, indigenous peoples, and an assortment of celebrities (can't have a climate rally without some celebs!) to rally and lead a march on the White House Sunday afternoon, calling for an end to politics and policies that are cooking our planet to death. For all the serious stuff, it was also a party -- chants for justice were mixed in with mini dance parties to pop music. But for all the Gangnam Style, there was an overwhelming sense that, while this rally was a glorious show, it was also indicative of just how bad things have gotten.
"We have a very entrenched system that's going to really require us to work together for a vision of people, peace, and the planet," the Green Party's Jill Stein said in an interview. "We are here for the long haul."
From fracking and coal to factory farming, activists called for an end to all the little things that are adding up to climate meltdown. But mainly today we were here because of the Keystone XL pipeline -- the long-embattled project to pump vast quantities of tar-sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, halted a year ago by President Obama and up for a final decision this spring.