400,000 march in NY, events in over 150 countries
On Sunday, September 21, thousands of people of all ages, size, shape, color and gender gathered to take part in the People’s Climate March in New York City. Estimated that 400,000 people attended it was the largest climate rally in history–more than tripling pre-march estimates of 100,000. Around the world, hundreds of thousands more joined 2,646 events in 156 countries.
Organizers expected the March lining up along Central Park West to stretch from 60th Street to 86th Street — but after thousands more filled in, the line went all the way back to 93rd Street. As of 1:45 p.m., the back of the march still hadn’t moved.
“We said it would take everyone to change everything — and everyone showed up,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
The march drew former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and performing artists Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Sting. Demonstrators came from as far away as Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nicaragua and Panama.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also marched—arm in arm with Messrs. Gore and de Blasio. The event was timed to occur before Tuesday’s United Nations’ Climate Summit, where more than 120 world leaders will try to rally the political will for a new world-wide climate treaty by the end of 2015.
Shattering expectations, this official attendee count makes the People’s Climate March New York City’s largest social demonstration in the last decade. Well above the 50,000 who attended Forward on Climate in 2013 and the 80,000 who attended the 2009 march at the Copenhagen climate talks, the 310,000 attendees at today’s demonstration have set world history just days before a UN Summit bringing world leaders together to discuss tangible action on climate change.
Relying on a crowd density analysis formula developed by a professor of game theory and complex systems at Carnegie Mellon University, the official attendee count calculates the average density of the march crowd over specific intervals, factoring in the surface area covered by the crowd and the speed and duration of the march.
“Our members are marching because climate change affects all of us,” said Héctor Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “We live in the communities that get destroyed by storms like Sandy. We work in the buildings that get flooded. We get hit by health epidemics like asthma that are rampant in our communities, and we care about the world that we will leave for our children and grandchildren.”
In addition, at last count, 2,129,060 people around the world had also signed onto a petition calling for world leaders to take bold action at the UN Climate Summit this week.
“With hundreds of thousands marching in over 2,500 protests worldwide, this is by a long way the largest climate mobilization in history. It’s a wake up call to politicians that climate change is not a green issue anymore, it’s an everybody issue,” said Ricken Patel, the executive director of Avaaz, who delivered the petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon while on the the march route.