GreenLaurel: Two April Marches in D.C. Come at Critical Time for Climate Change

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People’s Climate March 2014 in New York City.

Activists have planned two worldwide protest marches for this April in Washington, D.C. in response to President Trump and the GOP’s all-out attacks on scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change policies. The March for Science will take place on Earth Day, April 22, 2017. Following a week of “protests in action,” the People’s Climate March will take place on Trump’s 100th day in office, April 29, 2017. 

This is the year to urge your friends and family to take climate change seriously.  Scientists give our planet about 19 years to tamp down the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that have been building in our atmosphere. Otherwise, we’re cooked. With Trump and the GOP most likely tanking four of these 19 years, there’s much work to do to ensure we pass on a livable planet to future generations.

These Boots Were Made for Walking: March for Science – April 22

Starting at 10 a.m. with a teach-in and rally on the National Mall, March for Science participants will then march through the streets of D.C. The March on Science’s mission says it’s “a call for politicians to implement science based policies, as well as a public celebration of science and the enormous public service it provides in our democracy, our economy, and in all our daily lives.”

The rally will feature main stage speakers and several large tents around the Mall where scientists, educators and leaders from a variety of disciplines will discuss their work, effective science communication strategies and training in public advocacy. Visit their website or Facebook page for details about travel tips and the event’s itinerary.

People’s Climate March – April 29

Though a separate effort, the two march organizers are working together so that each event starts and ends a week of climate-focused protests.

Organized by a large coalition of environmental and social justice groups, the April 29 People’s Climate March is the follow-up to the 400,000 person climate event in New York City in 2014. This year’s march has an expanded mission to include not only our climate, but also jobs and social justice. Visit their website or Facebook page for details about travel and the event’s itinerary.

Why march now? Simple math: 450 CO2 = + 2

About two years ago, we reported on the two climate change-related numerals that people should understand and track: 450 and seven. Similar to how we all track our cholesterol and blood pressure levels to gauge our health, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) track and measure carbon dioxide (CO2) parts per million (ppm) levels.

Pre-industrial revolution CO2-levels hovered consistently around 280 p.p.m. for 800,000 years. Last month, CO2 levels kept on zooming up to 405 p.p.m.

450 CO2 ppm means we’re cooked. We’re at 405. Each year, CO2 has been rising by 3 ppm. Credit: Ed Dlugokencky and Pieter Tans, NOAA/ESRL

Scientists have also predicted that in order for our planet to be livable, global warming can’t exceed 2℃, or 3.6℉. Scientists have calculated that 450 CO2 ppm equals 2℃ warming.

Why is seven important? North America is expected to be at least 7℉ hotter by the year 2100 if we do nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions. 

February 2017 was Wicked Hot

According to NOAA, “the average global temperature across land surfaces was 1.78°C (3.20°F) above the 20th-century average of 3.2°C (37.8°F).”

The reason it’s getting hotter? Collectively, the world is pumping out greenhouse gases faster and faster each year. Not good. Data for 2016 really sucked because for a second year in a row, CO2 levels increased 3 ppm.

Michael E. Mann, a leading climate scientist, predicts our atmospheric CO2 levels will reach 450 ppm. in 2036.

With Trump and his posse slashing the Clean Power Plan, killing the EPA, pulling out of the Paris Agreement and promoting coal, fracked gas and tar sands oil, 2036 just may be conservative. 

The real point, and you know this, is that climate change is here. Check out Maryland’s temperatures since 1895 below. It really is warmer. Rain, snow, plants and the weather — they’re all messed up. Pretty soon, most ecosystems, our food systems, drinking water and farming systems will also be really messed up.

Credit: NOAA state temperatures data

Okay, Then. Now What?

  • Consider joining the March for Science or the People’s Climate March.
  • Take climate change seriously. Educate yourself — read this easy IPCC report card.
  • Switch your home to clean energy through BGE (it saves money, too).
  • As you wait for “community solar,” make your home as energy-efficient as possible.
  • Your next car purchase is critical. Buy electric, hybrid or fuel-efficient.
  • Make the tough, small and visible changes in your daily home and work lives (reusable bags, no plastic, reusable cups, buy organic and fair trade, eat less meat). It’s funny how the everyday behaviors are the hardest, but they show your family that upstream and downstream impacts are important.
  • Vote with your wallet. Vote for politicians who understand basic scientific data. 

There is no planet B.

Laurel Peltier
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Laurel Peltier

Laurel writes the environmental GreenLaurel column every other Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of UVA's MBA program, she spends her time with her family and making "all things green" interesting.
Laurel Peltier
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