So what did the experience mean to some of the folks that went to DC for the Forward on Climate rally? Here a couple of comments:
“I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow this morning. I just wanted to say what an honor and privilege it was to go to Washington and march with you all. Being a part of that group demanding that our government do something about climate change and seeing all the people with their excellent home-made signs and yelling and chanting was one of the most inspiring and affecting experiences I have ever had. You guys are beautiful.”
~ David U.
Thank you so much for an awesome experience!!! Please let me know how I can help your cause?
~ Bob J.
Thanks again, Bill, for all you and the others did to make everything work on the whole event yesterday! I was proud to be part of the local contingent!
~ Dan F.
The experience lead at least two of the Charlotte area participants to write to President Obama. Here’s a copy of their messages:
A letter from Karen H
20 February, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
I am writing to you as a supporter, someone who voted for you in both presidential elections and who was elated to see you win a second term in office. I have just returned from the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., this past Sunday, and I want to do my little bit to make sure you feel the full impact of that event and what it meant to those who attended (50,000 by the estimate of rally organizers, though somewhat less reported in some media accounts).
I want specifically to address one quote I read in a Huffington Post article dated February 18th: A student was reported to have said that “she heard about the issue just moments before she decided to hop on a bus to D.C. She’d never seen the nation’s capital, … and was looking for an adventure.” I don’t fault that student, and I’m sure there were many at the rally for whom this was indeed an adventure. But please don’t think for a moment that those 50,000 marchers were on a lark! No, we were there because we take seriously what science is telling us about climate change, we are deeply disturbed by our government’s failure to take the appropriate measures, and we care passionately about the human suffering that will result if we don’t. Why else spend an entire day (10 hours, in the case of my group) outdoors in temperatures ranging from 30 to 34 degrees, in a sometimes biting wind. It was physically difficult, especially for the many marchers who, like me, are older and sometimes stressed to the limit by so much standing and walking. It required passionate conviction about this issue.
I’d like to give you more of the flavor of the event from my direct experience with my own group: Unlike many marchers, we had a relatively short distance to cover to get to Washington, but we did have to ride all night on a bus from Charlotte, NC, arriving around 8:00 on Sunday morning. As we were signing up ahead of time for the event, there was a forecast of freezing rain in the capitol for Sunday, and 2” of snow fell in Charlotte the afternoon before the rally – an unusual event. Yet no one I know of backed out of their commitment to the trip. After our bus let us off at the Washington Monument on Saturday, we were truly on our own, carrying all our belongings in daypacks (since they couldn’t be left on the bus), and all we had to eat or drink all day was in those daypacks. We rode the bus home through the night Sunday, and didn’t get back to our warm homes until 4:00 a.m. at the earliest, much later for others. Some who had come up from South Carolina to join us on the bus still had a 2-hour drive before they could rest. Our group was diverse – some college students, but many others well past middle age. One older woman in our group was unable to complete the march, her legs giving out somewhere near the intersection of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. (D.C. police kindly helped her.) I saw “marchers” in wheelchairs and others on crutches. Some parents carried children on their shoulders or in baby carriers. Meanwhile, back home, friends and relatives who couldn’t make the trip for one reason or another were cheering us on. I’m telling you this, not to whine – the rally was a wonderful and inspiring gathering that helped to renew my faith in my fellow citizens – but because I want you to know the strength of conviction behind this Climate rally. No, this was not just a lark.
One of the chants launched by a group of young people at the rally went like this: “Tell me how democracy works”, the response being, “This is how democracy works.” I would like to believe that. I would like to believe that you, as president, will listen to the deep concerns of the people and do everything in your power to address climate change. But, unfortunately, democracy doesn’t work very well when people are uneducated, or downright misinformed, about the issues. As you know, what special interests have done to prevent voters from recognizing and facing the environmental realities has poisoned the political atmosphere. Meanwhile, those realities will unfold whether we deny them or not. I therefore urge you not to weigh public opinion polls too heavily when considering the Keystone XL Pipeline. Please exercise your leadership as a highly educated person with state-of-the-art science at your fingertips. Scientific excellence has made our country great: Few citizens hesitate to rely on it, for example, for military defense or for medical treatment. Yet so many dismiss climate science. How can that be? The reason is obvious: There are those with short-term economic goals who have invested millions in discrediting it. That is a terrible wrong, and one for which we are already paying.
That the Bush administration’s suppression of relevant science delayed our government’s response to climate change represents a deep stain on its integrity. Please do everything that you can (as I see you are beginning to do) to reverse this know-nothing approach. Then you will find the voters grateful for your decision not to allow KXL within our borders. Or must we wait ‘til the worst consequences of adding all that CO2 to the atmosphere become something no voter can ignore? We all know it will then be too late. Those invested in or influenced by the oil & gas industry are never likely to give you the green light to act for the good of the people. And perhaps I am naïve about how much power you really have to oppose them. But that is your mandate, and I believe that you possess the intelligence and good will to go ahead and do what you can. Please don’t let us down.
A letter from Deb A.
February 20, 2013
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20500
SUBJECT: I attended KXL Oil Protest for G’kids! We stood up for Climate Action, need YOU to do same!
Dear President Obama:
16 hours on a bus, 8 hours in 25 degree weather in DC to ask your help to stop this dirty tar sands oil project that will only create jobs cleaning up the spills and enrich foreign nations. I understand you were in Florida playing golf. I certainly do not deny you that after all you have been through, but you must understand that we, the people, are seriously relying on you to say NO to this KXL pipeline! My friend Dr. James Hansen of NASA says it will be “game over for the planet” and I believe him!
Two of my precious grandchildren already suffer from asthma due to coal burning from Duke Energy and we are watching the fast track to fracking for natural gas that will pollute our groundwater here in ALEC*-controlled NC. Fossil fuels are suicidal to the planet and my family!
Corporations are trying to increase their bottom line with no human concerns. Look up *A.L.E.C., Gasland and www.storyofcitizensunited.org to learn more. Join with the rest of us air breathers to stop this assault on our planet.
I always like to offer solutions and below are some web addresses which offer WORKING plans. I also recommend you join with others who are what I call “green wannabees” like Warren Buffet* (still funding coal through BofA and profiting from transporting coal by his Burlington Northern Railroad) and my friend Jim Rogers of Duke Energy who has a 20-year IRP plan for 3% renewables by 2030 (that includes solar, wind and pig poop, can you believe?). Please follow working plans like Germany and Iceland to “democratize the grid” with distributed rooftop solar where everyone profits.
I worked hard for you! Now I need you to come through for me and my grandchildren.
Mrs. Deb A.