Thousands of young people — kids and adults — and their parents/caretakers took to Boston City Hall Plaza on Friday 9/20 to demand action on climate change. I went with my daughter and another family from our town. My poster said, “I’M A CLIMATE DAD”. I think that’s got to be the next unavoidable swing demographic bloc, and I’ll flog that to any poll-swilling political wiseguy who will listen.
Let me say this with no ambiguity whatsoever: If you are a parent, a grandparent — if you have any relation to any young person at all — you have a duty to do all you can to prevent the catastrophe of climate change. Your highest leverage will be through systems change: That’s political action, also corporate action. Personal action is also meaningful — put that under the rubric of cultural change. Take the first step, whatever that may be; and then the next and the next. We need everyone.
Of course, there’s a Massachusetts political valence to this event. Green New Deal author Senator Ed Markey was on hand, even as his main rival Joe Kennedy III was planning his primary challenge rollout.
Members of @SunriseSalem excited to meet climate hero @SenMarkey. The @sunrisemvmt + @AOC have endorsed Ed Markey’s re-election. We need climate hero’s —not centrist middle ground @RepJoeKennedy #Boston #mapoli #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/EAh7BDRmn5
— Noel Healy (@DrNoelHealy) September 20, 2019
This is going to be a strange and interesting primary. The kids filling the streets, marching from City Hall to the State House, were chanting “GREEN NEW DEAL!” They know who Markey is. I’m guessing that Kennedy’s early poll leads have more to do with name recognition — particularly from older people who wouldn’t mind a Kennedy restoration. The 73-year-old is the hipster; the 38-year-old is the link to the past, a comfortable continuity. You know where I stand on that.
Michelle Wu spoke with passion and specificity, linking climate to the host of intersectional injustices that climate change will aggravate. (Mayor Marty Walsh was there in a rather less interesting appearance, defending a less-interesting record. Still I was glad to have him on hand as official imprimatur if little else.)
The Reverend Mariama White-Hammond delivered a tough message, couched in the only value system I can understand — that of love. And she called on us to build real relationships in real space — to build those ties that bind. (For those of us extremely-online people this may not come easily.)
“If we really want to turn the tide … we’ve got to build relationships … we’ve got to build this movement on love.” @RevMariama #StrikeWithUs #ClimateStrike #climatestrikeboston pic.twitter.com/F05sKGyMAA
— Blue Mass Group (@bluemassgroup) September 20, 2019
May this be the new Zeitgeist. (We need songs to go with.)
And naturally, there was no stopping at City Hall — we marched straight to Bizarro Disneyland, The Place Where Dreams Go To Die, aka the Massachusetts State House. As you know, Speaker DeLeo is sitting on a treasure trove of terrific environment/energy bills — including one calling for 100% renewable energy by 2050 — which he has no intention of letting pass this session. The very wise-adult-in-charge Charlie Baker has offered no leadership or encouragement.
That has to change. We saw the legislature break a logjam with the new education funding formula, widely praised by advocates and probably even acceptable to the Governor. Clean energy and climate adaptation are not controversial; they are consensus issues in Massachusetts. It’s hard to get politicians to pass marginally-popular things; but why is it so hard to pass massively popular things — with a constituency rallying outside saying essentially, We’ve got your back?
In any event … this is the beginning. Sunrise Boston folks made mention of a Black Friday demonstration event; and since climate change will continue, so will this political mobilization. Welcome to the future — if you missed Friday’s events for whatever reason, there will be a lifetime of opportunities to engage.
May these young people who inherit the world awaken the slumbering hearts of their elders. And may these young people succeed in not only raising awareness but in gaining actual governing power — winning elections and entering into the halls of power with a mandate and a to-do list. More on that later.