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by Marc Jampole LIKE MANY OF MY FRIENDS, I’m excited about marching in the People’s Climate Change March this Sunday in New York City. Organizers are hoping it will be the largest demonstration in history in support of solutions to climate change. The march on Manhattan’s West Side coincides with the start of the United Nations 2014 Climate Summit two days later. By the grace of good luck, the Peoples Climate Change March and the U.N. summit come on the heels of a new study that demonstrates what anyone with common sense should have always known: that weaning the world’s economy off carbon-based fuels will not wreck the economy. For years, intellectual factotums of the oil and electrical generation industries have insisted that replacing carbon-based fuels with solar and wind power would hurt the economy. Their arguments didn’t take into account that designing, making and servicing solar and wind equipment created jobs or that using less oil, coal, and natural gas saved money that companies and individuals could spend, creating jobs elsewhere in the economy. I haven’t marched in a demonstration since 2008, so I’m psyched! I’m hoping that the turnout runs into the hundreds of thousands. BE IT THE LARGEST climate-change demonstration or a bust, the success of the march will depend less on how many and who walks and more on the attitude of the news media. The news media will define how many people showed up, and their numbers often stray from reality. The news media will determine whether the march is forgotten three years later or goes down in history. I first learned this lesson during the Vietnam War era — my youth — when the news media underestimated the attendance at every antiwar demonstration in the early years of protest — before the media followed the country and started to oppose the war. The 2010 election exemplifies how the new media can make or break a march. There were three marches and demonstrations on Independence Mall in Washington DC during the election season:
- March of Tea Party organized by and featuring Glen Beck
- March of progressives organized by unions
- March organized by Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the Comedy Central, which was also a demonstration for progressive causes.