Mixed messages drown out Miami’s climate issue march

Miami is underwater. Or it’s going to be. Well, maybe. I’m sure they shouted something about that.

On Sunday, Sept. 21, a group of students, activists and concerned citizens met in front of Miami’s Freedom Tower to march and raise awareness of the global conundrum called climate change. Miami’s march was the much smaller sister of the 100,000 strong, celebrity-filled march in New York City. There, I observed some startling aspects of our local environmentalist movement that made me incredibly concerned for our planet’s future.

For one, there were hardly any activists. For such a pressing issue, there were barely a hundred people in attendance. Most trudged along quietly while a few organizers screamed chants into megaphones.

The leaders themselves were not charismatic, but instead looked weary and disheveled. They were sweaty and dirty. They had no pre-rehearsed message and attempted to speak from the heart, but they were not orators. They failed to inspire passion and fervor in their listeners.

The route took the group away from the public. We walked in the direction of traffic so they could not see our signs, and then we traced the outskirts of Bayfront Park. There was a sweet family enjoying a picnic, a couple of dog walkers and a sailboat. That’s it. Those are essentially the only people we saw.

Eventually, CBS’s local news team showed up. The organizers had us wait half an hour in the back of the park for them. I’m sure it made it onto the news for a minute or two. I’m sure no one paid attention.

What really killed the march was a lack of a unified message. Everyone had a different problem and everyone got to voice that problem. From genetically modified organism (GMO) fear-mongers to Anonymous, every left-wing conspiracy theorist got to voice his or her opinion.

The Climate March is a movement that supposedly prides itself on its scientific foundation, and it was strange that a discussion on “chemtrails,” allegedly toxic agents sprayed into the atmosphere by airplanes for secret, sinister purposes, was included on the same agenda that advocates an increase in alternative energy usage.

The reason the climate change movement is struggling is its willingness to embrace every fringe cause. There was no coherent message to take away from the march. Do they propose we follow the Weak Ecological Model: using technology like alternative energies to help continue promoting human growth and expansion? Do they support a more radical Strong Ecological Model: making substantive changes to infrastructure that limit growth?

The organizers seemed to support everything and nothing. The primary concern might have been Miami’s imminent risk of submersion—they yelled at a couple passersby about it. They threw literature at them. But they didn’t convey a coherent message and the discussion shifted the instant someone new controlled the megaphone. All an onlooker could take away is that these people were radical and unreliable.

Shame on them. This issue requires organization, focus and clear goals. Get a leader that can inspire, not simply perspire. Stop trying to achieve everything at once. Pick an issue like limiting carbon emissions. Lobby for legislation and don’t stop until it passes. Advocate technological solutions that allow growth to continue so that business and workers alike will support the changes. Find a way to be passionate, yet practical, not alienating and radical.

The march in New York was a success, which should be a relief to us all. But in our city, one surrounded by polluted water and damaged wetlands, we had better start organizing our own parades and passing substantive legislation. No matter how ridiculous it may sound, it won’t be long before we are truly underwater.

Spencer Pretecrum is a senior majoring in psychology and creative writing.