NEW YORK CITY—In September I attended my fourth–or was it my fifth?--Climate Week in New York City. How did it compare to previous years? For starters, it was larger with more venues, events, and attendees. I’m not sure anyone has an accurate count of total participants, because there is no single event organizer, but the March to End Fossil Fuels attracted an estimated 75,000 advocates for action.
In all, there were some 500 events across New York City. Participation was in-person, online, and a mix in some cases. With so much going on it’d be hard for Manhattanites to not notice the influx. Hopefully, some of the climate message rose above the din in the noisiest city in the country.
Each year the event takes place in the third week of September, in conjunction with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly session. But that’s not where the real action takes place. With so many international figures from government and business sectors in town for “UNGA,” the climate crisis is just one of the issues focused on that week for the General Assembly. That’s why most of the action takes place elsewhere, with mini-conferences, panel discussions, and networking events for 10 jam packed days. Frankly, it’s the NGO’s and activists pushing for climate action that drives the conversations.
Scenes from the NYC climate march by some 75,000 people on Sunday 17 September 2023.
The week kicked off on Sunday 17 September, with an energetic start. As you can see, it was a colorful and committed crowd of all ages marching through midtown, from Columbus Circle to the UN. The great weather and generally good spirits (though some anger, sadness, and grief is appropriate in this context) made for an inspiring and motivational afternoon.
Two days later, I participated in a protest outside News Corp.’s Fox News Channel headquarters in midtown, led by #Truth Tuesdays. That group has been picketing every week during the crowded noon hour, attracting the attention of pedestrians, motorists, and the occasional Fox “News” cable TV hosts, who give them a good glare.
It’s the glaring and galling lies from the likes of Sean Hannity, Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters (and Tucker Carlson, before he was abruptly fired) that are the reason for these protests. Not only have they lied about COVID-19 and election fraud, but for much longer—some 20 years now—they’ve blatantly and brazenly lied about the climate crisis, dismissing it as a hoax. They are still getting away with it, and their deliberate DISinformation campaign is costing lives. Stay tuned for a possible class action suit addressing that deadly travesty.
That’s me (in above photo) along with about 20 other passionate demonstrators. My sign is an actual sonogram of my granddaughter, who would arrive two months later, in November. The term “future generations” now has a more personal, direct resonance!
Another standout event was put on by STAND.earth, an organization that presses corporations, industries, and governments to prioritize the health of people and planet. Among the speakers was Marianne Williamson, spiritual leader, author and presidential candidate…yes, she is running again! I respect her dogged persistence, and humanitarian objectives but she is too liberal for much of America.
After the event there was a private party where Canadian climate activist Tzeporah Berman spoke. Talk about resolve and persistence, she is a power house currently working with STAND.earth and leading the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Please see my interview with her on GreenTV.com, after her return from COP28.
Left: Tzeporah Berman, Founder, Fossil Fuels Non-proliferation Treaty
Right: Betsy Rosenberg stands beside pro-environment, pro-peace 2024 POTUS Democratic nomination candidate Marianne Williamson, during NYC’s 2023 Climate Week. (Photo credit: Betsy Rosenberg)
The next standout event I attended was Covering Climate Now’s two-day summit, held at NYC’s Columbia University. This is a group I have some history with, but I’ll save that for another time. The goal of CCN is to pressure newsrooms to provide more and better coverage of the worsening climate crisis. While that is a noble and needed goal, and they are having some modest successes, with more newsrooms—from television to newspapers to podcasts—beginning to cover the climate emergency like the existential crisis it is and has long been, the content still made up only a tiny 1.3 percent of news on the networks in 2022 (as measured by Media Matters for America), merely a tip of the melting icebergs!
The highlight at that mini-conference was meeting fellow climate journalists, including Amy Goodman (Host of DEMOCRACY NOW!), Justin Worland (TIME magazine climate correspondent), and Amy Westervelt (founder of “Drilled” online newsletter and podcast). Each of them expressed interest in my efforts to sue Fox on behalf of victims who lost life, limb, or property because they didn’t evacuate soon enough, instead assuming the hurricane/tornado/fire/flood would be similar to those in past years, and not weather-on-steroids, courtesy of our fossil fuel emissions.
Betsy Rosenberg with Drilled podcaster Amy Westervelt (left), TIME's Justin Worland (center), and DEMOCRACY NOW!'s Amy Goodman (right). (Photo credit: Betsy Rosenberg)
The other highlight was seeing actor-activist Jane Fonda speak at an intimate event one evening. I introduced myself, even though we met years ago. She was friendlier this time.
My only gripe with Jane is that she blames the fossil fuel industry solely for our continuing rise in greenhouse gas emissions. While there is certainly plenty of legitimate blame there, she seems to overlook the unmet responsibility of mainstream news media to properly cover the climate emergency and refusing to offer programming focused on solutions.
Key takeaway messages from Climate Week 2023 is that there was both good news and bad news, perhaps not surprisingly. On the positive side, the movement is definitely growing, and the greater public is becoming – on the whole—more appropriately concerned and curious. The negative is the scary recognition that despite real progress on many green fronts--from renewable energy production rising as costs go down, to the regeneration and degrowth movements gaining traction—the sobering reality is that the transition away from fossil fuels is not keeping up with the wicked pace of accelerating climate change.
This is why we launched GreenTV.com, to fill the deliberate void in mainstream programming by offering timely and comprehensive content that promises three things: 1) to tell the truth about our ecological status, 2) to connect dots that others miss, and 3) to focus relentlessly on solutions large and small. We need a sea change as the seas rise. The team at GreenTV.com tracks the important changes underway—good and bad---and we hope you’ll want to know about them as we navigate this epic challenge together because it will take all of us.