Wake up Humanity: It's Time for a Clean Energy Revolution!

By Maizy Ludden on


As I marched like one drop in a river of 10,000 people during the recent March for a Clean Energy Revolution, the power of the people had never been more clear to me.  The energy of the diverse crowd was inspiring and invigorating, and as we gathered across from Independence Hall in downtown Philadelphia we became not so much a collection of separate water droplets but rather a united flood of passion.  Calling for bans on fracking, a just transition to renewable energy, an end to the Fossil Fuel Economy, Climate Justice, and more, the march convened on the eve of the Democratic National convention in an oppressive heat that pointed ominously at climate change. The day began with meetings, conferences, and workshops organized by a colorful range of coalitions from Peace and Climate Justice, to InFrackStructure, to Elders, Faith, and even a yoga contingent!  The ability of so many seemingly separate interests to come together in a collective demand for change was one of the most inspiring parts of the day, and as I made connections with members of other contingents the true impact of our society’s reliance on fossil fuels became more and more evident.   The many different perspectives on clean energy and climate justice made it clear that our addiction to dirty energy is harming not just the planet but people as well- and those who take the brunt of the damage are often those who are already under-privileged, oppressed, and least able to fight back.  However, fight back is exactly what people are doing, and they are doing it with all the force of a raging river.

Marchers hold signs about clean energy and ending fracking
Marchers flood the streets of Philadelphia, calling for a Clean Energy Revolution!

This powerful current of resistance ran through the words of the many individuals and groups who spoke  throughout the day, from the Interfaith Service preceding the March to the moving statements made by speakers following the procession through the city.  Members of the Ramapough Lanape nation, the original inhabitants of the Philadelphia area, highlighted the injustices their members have faced as fracking and oil drilling poison their waters and their air.  Asthma, cancer, and other health consequences are horrifyingly common amongst the Lenape people, and in other populations worldwide who have been unfairly subjected to the environmental damages caused by fracking and other destructive energy sources.  Fracking was a huge focus at the march, along with opposition to other dirty fuels like nuclear and coal and to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Marchers voiced their support for solar, wind, and other clean energy sources, and in a stunning visual rendition of this message, a giant fabric sun was unfurled with the cooperation of the massive crowd gathered in the heat of the REAL sun.  Along with this display, several other presentations and actions made it clear that the afternoon’s march was more than just a one-time event- it was the beginning of a movement.  The spirit of this rising tide of activism was demonstrated in many creative ways, including a spoken word piece by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a member of the youth-led environmental activist group Earth Guardians.   This powerful performance rang out alongside speeches from those whose communities have been impacted by our society’s addiction to dirty energy.  There was even a creative action staged by the It Takes Roots contingent demanding justice for Berta Calaveras, the Honduran environmental activist who was assassinated as she fought for justice for her people.  Berta’s daughter Laura Zuniga Caceres summed up the urgency behind the battle for clean energy and climate justice as she repeated her slain mother’s call to action: “Wake up Humanity!  Time is running out!”

As I headed home from Philly, hot and exhausted but invigorated nonetheless, these words echoed in my ears again and again.  We may all be just a single drop in the ocean of human civilization, but we must ALL wake up to the injustices our current system commits against people like Berta and the Hondurans, people like the farmers in India whose crops fail from lack of rain, people like the Rapanapough Lanape, the black communities and immigrants, the women and children and all the other marginalized groups who have suffered for so long in the wake of humanity’s destructive drive for “progress”.  As we open our eyes to this ongoing story of exploitation, we must unite like the many individual drops of rain that combine in a river of life.  Only then can we use the power of the people to change the current of our society- we will redefine progress, and we will not stop until we have a just transition to clean energy for our country and the world.