The call for action on climate change echoed strongly from the Hoosier state in New York Sunday.
At least two buses and an unknown number of vans and cars carried Indiana residents to Manhattan for the People’s Climate March.
The purpose of the People’s Climate March was to get the attention of world leaders gathered for Tuesday’s United Nations Summit. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, former U.S. vice president Al Gore, and actors Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio were among the climate activists who brought attention to global warming and other environmental issues.
Sierra Club volunteer Jesse Kirkham organized one bus from Indianapolis. He wrapped up the experience in one word.
“The whole experience was epic,” said Kirkham during the ride back to Indiana. “With each passing day more and more people signed up to go. The bus only held 56 people and we had a waiting list of more than 30.”
Another bus, organized out of Bloomington, carried 56 more people and had a waiting list just as long. Kirkham says had they known the response would be so great, they would have arranged for more buses. (Buses were at a premium for the weekend with more than 960 groups from all 50 states headed to New York.) Vans were arranged for the overflow and others simply made their own arrangements to get to the Big Apple.
The delegation from Indiana joined more than 300,000 people on the West Side of New York City for a march that took participants down a two-mile stretch of road. The group was so massive that several marchers waited more than three hours before beginning their walk.
“All along the way, the march was telling a story,” said Kirkham. “There were various issues all related to protecting our environment, about how it all links together and how it’s all going to limit our natural resources. It is all of concern.”
Protesters carried signs about greenhouse gases, the effects of war on the environment, the need for increased use of renewable energies and much more.
For the folks from Indiana, the journey was a spark to ignite change here at home.
“For me the journey was just as important, if not more important, as the destination,” said Kirkham. “I have met and talked to more and more people from around the state that are like me with the same concerns about the environment. Now we can get together, get more organized, and have a better impact.”
The People’s Climate March kicked off a week of activities for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Action Week. Here in Indiana, the week will conclude with an Energy Freedom Rally.
Several local groups from around the state will gather on the east steps of the Indiana Statehouse Saturday to call on Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature to get serious about the environment.
“ We plan to present a petition that calls for the governor to reinstate the energy efficiency plan that was in place,” said Kirkham. The groups will also call for a more aggressive approach to utilizing renewable energy in the state and letting go of fossil fuels.
“[The momentum] started with the Moral Mondays rally Saturday afternoon and took us all the way to New York and back,” said Kirkham. “We are going to use this to hopefully make some positive changes.”