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On Sunday, July 24, a day before the opening of the Democratic National Convention amid turmoil in Philadelphia, the U.S. climate justice movement seized the moment to convene and march in large numbers for a clean energy revolution.

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Despite sweltering temperatures exceeding 95 degrees (an uncomfortable irony lost on no one), as many as 10,000 people or more demanded a rapid and complete transition to clean, renewable energy in the United States. This was the largest gathering against fracking ever held in the United States, and one of the largest climate marches ever to take place here, possibly second only to the massive New York City climate march of September 2014, which I also took part in.

They chose this place because Pennsylvania is number two in the United States in natural gas production, practically all of this by fracking the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. The timing was due to the Democratic Convention.

And it worked. There were marchers from every state, from over 500 communities, and more than 900 groups endorsed the march, organized by Food and Water Watch, and convened by Americans Against Fracking and Pennsylvanians Against Fracking.

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The growing diversity of the climate justice movement was in evidence, with several members I had accompanied on the Protect Our Public Lands Tour in the front row, placing these indigenous activists from the front lines of climate injustice in their rightful role – sharing in leadership of the movement.

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Our demands included to ban fracking across our land, and well beyond….

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Instead, we will build the alternatives…

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And seek the future we want…

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Because every one of us knew that fossil fuels represent the past…

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Meanwhile, there was much agreement that a clean energy future does not involve nuclear power as it is too dangerous, too costly, and too damaging to life. The future will be carbon free and nuclear free.

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I didn’t spot a single supporter of Hillary Clinton. Nor, of course, of Donald Trump. But there were plenty of Bernie Sanders supporters, made even angrier by Wikileaks revelations that the Democratic National Committee, led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had systematically worked against his candidacy, rigging the electoral system and further degrading democracy in the United States. They jubilantly chanted “Goodbye, Debbie” and “Debbie Is Gone” as the march unfolded.

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And there was no shortage of criticisms about the political system…

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And of the insanity and cruelty of militarism…

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Or the greed of the one percent…

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In sum, it’s important, very important, very very important to…

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Even Uncle Sam (at least our Uncle Sam) doesn’t seem to want any more “free” trade agreements…

The political alternative?

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Above all, we called for justice in a variety of ways…

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Climate justice work involves strong emotions…

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And so we came with a sense of urgency…

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Because we know in our hearts that the time is now to call for emergency efforts to do all that we can…

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“Who wants climate Justice? We want climate justice! When do we want it? NOW!”

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“We are beyond the tipping point. The time to act was yesterday!”

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So many groups and constituencies were present.

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Elders walked together…

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Women’s Power was present, but still no sign of Hillary… 

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The labor movement was there though…

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As was the LGBTQI movement…

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Meanwhile, the Earth Guardians, largely comprised of youth and Latinos, had helped organize the event. They have recently filed a lawsuit against the federal government to “protect essential natural resources, such as air and oceans, for the benefit of all present and future generations.”

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Accompanied by another youth-led movement who brought their slogan “We are Powershift” straight from a weekend of work together.

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And The Climate Mobilization brought its urgent call for a “World-War 2 style national mobilization” against the threat of climate change…

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There were socialists in our ranks, and they too brought strong and positive messages…

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Buddhists brought their own message…

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And we were reminded that religion and politics can mix in this movement…

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Perhaps inspired by the hit film Cowspiracy, the connection between our diets and climate change was made…

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Protecting our Mother Earth was on the minds of many, including the Pachamama Alliance

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Many of us had multiple issues on our minds, but a few of these also brought them together with special creativity…

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In fact, many of the messages were works of art, telling their stories with images…

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While some sewed their passions together…"

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Others basked (and sweated) under the flowering face of the revolution …

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There were roots, reminding us of life…

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… and death.

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And love, too.

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Photo: Julie Maldonado

Making the connection…

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Oh, and sometimes…

It was so sunny I had trouble seeing the camera on my phone that took the pictures in this essay, so occasionally ended up with a shot of myself by accident. 

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