By Richard Akuson
Last Friday, hundreds of thousands of young activists marched in cities around the world—from Kampala, Uganda, to Des Moines, Iowa—demanding crucial action on the climate crisis that experts and scientists have unanimously agreed poses an existential threat to humankind and the planet’s ecosystems.
Here in the nation’s capital, a seven-hour-long protest began at George Washington University, halting business and movement in surrounding neighborhoods. Further down the road, protesters blocked major roads to the World Bank headquarters as they chanted, “We believe Bill Nye! Climate change is not a lie!” and demanded the international financial institution divest from fossil fuels.
Of course, the fossil fuel industry has benefited from the Trump administration’s support and its rollbacks of numerous regulations established by previous administrations to reduce emissions and fight climate change. Atop the seemingly bottomless list of rollbacks is the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement, as well as the weakening of methane regulation and the promotion of drilling on public lands.
To be sure, the intentional elimination of these vital regulations is in line with the far-Right tendency to deny global warming, which Trump himself fueled when he described global warming as a “hoax” peddled by China. This patently false idea—amongst others—has been irrefutably debunked by climate scientists and innumerable reports and research that shows climate change is indeed real.
The American Humanist Association’s delegation to the December 6 protest in DC included board members Ellen Sutliff and Becky Hale and staffers Emily Newman and Brody Armstrong (both from the AHA’s Center for Education). They joined youth activists, campaigners, religious leaders, and celebrities like Jane Fonda, Kyra Sedgwick, Maura Tierney, and Taylor Schilling. The well-attended march was a collaboration between Fonda’s Fire Drill Friday—a weekly demonstration the actress champions on Capitol Hill to demand climate action from political leaders that has seen her and others arrested by the police for “acts of civil disobedience”—and the student-led Youth Climate Strike Movement, an ongoing series of global climate strikes led by organizations like Our Kids’ Climate, Sunrise Movement, and Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future. Incidentally, Thunberg was just named TIME‘s Person of the Year.
Speaking about their experiences at the march, AHA Program Coordinator Brody Armstrong noted that “it was good to see some celebrities lending their fame to the protests without overshadowing the people and organizations taking action every day.” Education Coordinator Emily Newman appreciated “the humanist message of compassion and empathy that many of the speakers shared. We need to focus on people supporting people, listening to the science, and not letting corporations profit from people’s suffering.”
For more information on how you can join the American Humanist Association’s efforts to address global climate change, go HERE for Climate.