Massive worldwide demonstrations took place yesterday, Sept. 20, to demand meaningful governmental responses to the climate crisis—including a rally in Palm Desert.
According to media reports, some 2,500 events were scheduled in more than 150 countries on all seven continents. In New York City alone, an estimated crowd of 250,000 gathered in protest.
Here in the Coachella Valley, the Climate Reality Project of Riverside County sponsored a rally and demonstration that began around 3:30 p.m. in the offices of U.S. Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz, near the intersection of Washington Street and Fred Waring Drive in Palm Desert. After a few short speeches, the crowd of around 150 people—many carrying signs—moved onto the sidewalks surrounding the intersection. The mood was one of determination—to bring real solutions to this existential threat, and celebration—of the diverse community of young students, adults and seniors that joined together to send this message.
Richard Noble, chair of the Climate Reality Project of Riverside County, welcomed the crowd.
“What an amazing day,” he said. “Globally, the kids are standing up, and the adults are meeting them halfway—and we are coming together to face the climate crisis.
“About six months ago, I spoke before the Sustainability Commission of the Palm Springs City Council after having been trained by Al Gore. What Vice President Al Gore had said was that we have the solutions (right here) in windmills, solar and hydropower. These are all renewable energies that are carbon-free. (As a result), the City Council of Palm Springs unanimously called for Palm Springs to go 100 percent carbon-free by 2020. That’s a huge deal. But, unfortunately, Palm Desert and Cathedral City backed out of the agreement. Now, some of (their reticence) might have to do with money. But we have to ask ourselves: Do we want our planet? Or, do we mind paying a few extra dollars on a renewable-energy utility bill? If it’s going to save our lives and our planet, I don’t mind paying a few extra dollars.”
“This is not a drill. We are in a climate emergency. I invited every member of the City Council of Palm Springs to come out and join us today. Are you here?”
A silence in the crowd turned to groans. “Get them out here!” Noble said.
Renaissance Alexandre, a student leader at the University of California, Riverside, spoke next.
“It is also important to hold the systems accountable for the damage that they’re doing, which makes up the majority of climate change,” Alexandre said. “Those are the military industrial complex, the corporations and the travel industry. … I’m a feminist. I’m here for my native sisters, my two-spirited siblings and everyone in between, because we are all on this planet together. The Amazon happens to be in Brazil, but it is all our air and all our responsibility to help each other.”
A more local view was expressed by Priscilla, mother to 4-month old Melanie.
“We came out today for my daughter’s future, and living out here in the Coachella Valley and feeling the temperature rising, and seeing all the devastation that’s going on around the world, it’s really scary,” Priscilla said. “We want her to have a good future, so I’ve got to do something about it. She obviously doesn’t have a voice, so I’ve got to be the one to do it.”
Scroll down to see some photos from the rally.