I was with a contingent opposing fracking for natural gas -- which is not a bridge fuel to a cleaner energy future but, depending on the amount of leakage from drill pad to pipeline, could be as bad for the climate as burning coal, since methane -- the main component of natural gas -- in a 20-year time frame releases as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as coal, according to this scientific paper released in 2011. (And see my previous post for some other downsides.) We were near the end of the march, and we waited more than three hours just to step off. I was really glad the day was overcast.
Along the march route I was energized by a couple of marching bands and inspired by a group of people sitting on a little hillside, all meditating.
The next day was a protest with fewer people, but more excitement. Billed as "Flood Wall Street" -- to make the connection between Wall Street profiting from climate chaos and to remind folks that Hurricane Sandy flooded Wall Street two years ago -- about 2,000 of us gathered at Battery Park for some speeches before filing out onto the end of Broadway at about 11:30 a.m., with two of these amazing "carbon bubbles" (pictured) bobbing overhead. The idea was to shut down Wall Street, home to investment banks that underwrite all the filthy fossil fuel companies that continue business as usual. We didn't get to Wall Street so we sat down at the end of Broadway, flowing in and around motor vehicle traffic, including cop cars and a two-decker tourist bus, whose occupants cheered and applauded us (maybe just for the novelty, but still...)
The carbon bubbles represented the 80 percent of fossil fuels that cannot be exploited if we have any hope of not raising global temperature more than two degrees Celsius. The cops eventually obligingly popped both of them, thereby playing their part in our little drama. The cops penned us in on both sides of the street with those metal barriers in common use at protests these days, but we were able to open them and leave our spots for food or bathroom breaks (which was novel) and return to the protest. The cops took no action and let us sit there.
I sat in til about 3:30, met some great folks and had some good conversations. But when it seemed that nothing was going to happen, or that we might get arrested when the trading day ended at 4, since we had not really interfered with business as usual, I decided it wasn't worth getting arrested. Little did I know that at 4 p.m., the protesters surged onto Wall Street, where eventually about a hundred were arrested (and some pepper spray was used). I think I would have stayed, had I known the game plan, but I guess the organizers felt they couldn't share it with the whole crowd.
Well, on to the next: a week of direct action November 1-7 in D.C. at FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, for what "fracktivists" say is its rubber stamping of all kinds of gas infrastructure proposals. In a conversation with a PR person there, I learned that the source of the gas is beyond the purview of the agency, so they pay no mind to the increasing percentage of gas that's horizontally fracked, with all the environmental and public health complications that brings. All kinds of creative actions are being planned by an incredibly smart and committed group of organizers. Join the fun! https://sites.google.com/site/beyondextremeenergy/