Today I joined the People's Climate March--the biggest rally for climate action ever. It was exhilarating to be part of this historic event. I will never forget the moment I turned the corner at Columbus Circle and saw a sea of people stretching for miles in each direction. More than 310,000 of us came together in the streets of New York City to raise our voices and demand world leaders act on climate.
Marching with NRDC colleagues and members
The energy of the crowd was electric and the mood upbeat and friendly. People sang, chanted and played instruments. They cheered with their young children, and they applauded each other's signs and banners. They struck up conversations with strangers, because everyone knew we had something in common: a commitment to fight climate change.
That commitment is a powerful unifying force. I marched beside my husband, my daughters and many of my NRDC friends and colleagues. We were joined by people of all ages, races, and communities. Marchers came from Newark, New Orleans, Nebraska, and beyond. I spoke to a group of Canadians who had driven all through the night just to be a part of the event. Others flew from Turkey, India, and South Africa.
I have long understood that climate change is not only an environmental issue--it is a humanitarian, economic, health, and justice issue as well. Today's march reflected all those concerns.
There were Harlem community leaders who know urban neighborhoods pay a steep for dirty energy. There were nurses who remember when Superstorm Sandy closed down Bellevue Hospital and left nearby low-income communities without adequate health care. There were United Auto Workers members who believe climate justice equals labor justice. And there were representatives from the New York City Council, the Iroquois Confederacy, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Initiative, and thousands of other groups.
At 12:58, we observed two minutes of silence in honor of those most impacted by climate change. Then the crowd erupted--calling out, ringing bells, cranking noise makers--to raise the alarm for climate action. It was extraordinary to hear the sound of hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life joining together in one voice.
Our voices will still be echoing when world leaders arrive in New York on Tuesday for the United Nations Climate Summit. The international community knows how to tackle the climate crisis. We have the clean energy resources and the smart policies to do the job. What we need now is political will. The People's March on Climate demonstrated the groundswell of support for bold action.
I am so proud I could be a part of this momentous day. Like many others, I walked with my children because I want them to inherit a world without climate chaos. To create a more sustainable future, we must act today. This is our moment.
This post is part of a month-long series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with a variety of events being held in September recognizing the threats posed by climate change. Those events include the UN's Climate Summit 2014 (to be held Sept. 23, 2014, at UN headquarters in New York) and Climate Week NYC (Sept. 22-28, 2014, throughout New York City). To see all the posts in the series, read here.