Last weekend, ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, three hundred thousand people gathered on New York City streets in solidarity with similar marches across the globe in order to send a clear message to policy makers around the world that people are invested in their environment, and they are paying attention to what their governments are doing about our changing climate. The September 21 People’s Climate March kicking off Climate Week drew more than 300,000 participants.
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In the Himalayas, when a flash flood rips through a village or when a glacial lake flood outburst wipes one out entirely, surviving families relocate to new settlements, where women are often burdened with more labor and kept away from school, or sent off to an early marriage. Climate impacts have made gender and ethnic inequality more acute in terms of access to education, health care and food security.
Men have more opportunities for wage labor and better access to government services. Some women can obtain resources for themselves and for their children through the men they have ties to, but that dependence can leave them in an unfavorable position. Other women are left with little or no possibility of mobilizing ties to men to obtain resources.
At the People’s Climate March on Sunday, the Himalayan women of New York marched in solidarity with women who are affected by climate change. Himalayan communities from the Tibetan Plateau to the South Asian plains have firsthand experience of the adverse impact of climate change, including flash floods, reduced water access and erratic weather patterns.
ACHA Himalayan Sisterhood, an emerging international network of Himalayan women working towards women empowering women in creating safe, supportive space for all, presented demands for climate justice. The Himalayan women called for immediate expansion of resources to build climate resilience through domestic and international policies that rest on local control of land and other resources.
Women are at the center of climate change impact as they are disproportionally impacted. In mountain communities and rural villages around the world, women are the ones who collect water, firewood and other resources to feed families. This August, torrential rainfall in Nepal led to flash floods and mudslides which claimed more than 180 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands. Events such as this recur often, and are becoming more frequent as climate change progresses.
We made a model glacier that we brought to the People’s Climate March in New York on September 21. It was easy. We invite others to make model glaciers too. If you discover any improvements on our system, please let us know.
1. Find some friends. It’s more fun if you work with others.
2. Get a good-sized wagon. Ours had sturdy wheels and was easily maneuverable. Those were both positive features.
3. Fill some large plastic bags with crushed newspaper. They take up space and are much less heavy than ice. Buy some bags of ice cubes. And get a tarp too. It’s handy.
4. Visit stores that sell fresh fish. They often have machines that make crushed ice, and can sell or even give you some. It’s good to set this up in advance.
5. Assemble all your materials and cover them with a tarp. Head to the demonstration.
6. When you get near the demonstration, arrange your materials carefully. Having an extra tarp helps in case you have to unload some crushed ice, like we did. Your hands may get cold but they will warm up again.
7. This part of the process is a good opportunity to talk to others.
8. Bring the glacier to the demonstration.
9. Have some simple materials to hand out to people who are interested.
10. Talk to people at the demonstration. Encourage them to take selfies with the glacier. And have fun!
Total cost: about $30 for ice. Total time: 1 hour visiting fish stores in advance. 1 hour buying ice and assembling the paper in bags. 30 minutes putting glacier all together
What we will do differently next time:
1. Try to make the glacier more mountain-like. We may try putting some cardboard or sticks to make the crushed ice mound up higher.
2. Make a sign. Most people got the idea of the glacier, but some didn’t. And we could have added something that would attract attention. “I’m marching for all the glaciers in the world.” “It’s too hot for me.” Something like that.
Two teachers are preparing a model glacier, which they will bring to a major climate demonstration this weekend to illustrate the importance of glacier retreat as a climate change issue.
The People’s Climate March will be held on Sunday 21 September. This large event comes just before the opening of the 2014-15 session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday at UN headquarters in New York. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has announced a Climate Summit to coincide with the opening. Over 120 heads of state and other leaders will attend it. It comes a little more than a year before a major international conference in Paris in December 2015, which has been designated as the site for the conclusion of a legally binding international agreement on climate change. The Climate Summit could build momentum towards bringing the nations of the world together to such an agreement.
Coinciding with the Climate Summit is the People’s Climate March, a massive peaceful demonstration in support of action of climate change. Recognizing that the poor and marginalized groups are often the most strongly impacts by climate change, the march will emphasize issues of environmental justice and equity, It will be attended by more than a thousand groups—businesses, faith-based institutions, school groups and representatives of labor, environmental and social justice movements. Over 100,000 people are registered to attend.
Two New York City science teachers are preparing a model glacier that they will bring to the march. As they mentioned in an interview earlier today with GlacierHub, the base of the glacier will be a gray plastic wagon. They plan to model a mountain out of crushed newspaper, and then cover it with a waterproof tarp. They will place cubed and crushed ice on the tarp to represent a glacier. The blue plastic sheets will figure in somehow.
“We’d like to thank the head of the seafood department at Food Emporium on Broadway and West 90th,” one of them said. “She’s started saving up some crushed ice for us. We’ll pick it up on our way to the march.” The National Weather Service is currently forecasting mostly sunny weather, with a high of 78, so they may need to replenish the ice.
The teachers invite people who attend the march to find them and to take selfies with the glacier. GlacierHub will meet up with them and live tweet their location during the march. Attendees will have the opportunity to see other water-related floats as well, including an ark and a flotilla of paper boats.
They asked GlacierHub for a tagline for their glacier. Of the several possibilities that they considered, “Glacier Survival = Human Survival” is their current favorite. If readers would like to suggest alternatives, please email them to us at email@example.com and we will forward it to them.
Readers who would like to prepare wagon-based glaciers for events at other sites are also encouraged to email GlacierHub. We will put you in touch with the teachers for details on construction.