Climate march planned
Mark Hancock
Nathaniel Batchelder, Director, on The Peace House in Oklahoma City's front porch with a banner promoting the upcoming People's Climate March.

Environmentalists will gather for the People’s Climate March at the Oklahoma City Municipal Building on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The march is intended to negate what Peace House director and event organizer Nathaniel Batchelder calls the majority of state politicians’ “climate denial.”

“There are virtually no scientists today that disagree with the premise that global climate change is happening,” Batchelder said.

But for every sentence in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s annual report that argues mankind’s behavior affects global warming, there’s a politician who dismisses the whole premise as fiction, including Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma).

He published The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future in 2012. In support of the book’s release, he said only God could change climate in a radio interview with Voice of Christian Youth America.

“Global warming and climate change are real,” Batchelder said. “It’s predominately caused by human activities, and all humanity must participate in solutions. I don’t think that’s a radical position.”

It might be a difficult position for many Oklahomans to make, given that the oil and natural gas industry employs more than 83,000 people across the state. The industry is also vital to state infrastructure, paying nearly $1 billion in gross production taxes annually.

Public education benefits too. Since 1996, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB) has donated $25 million to education. OERB offers teachers and students free field trips on the condition the class completes an age- specific curriculum. Curricula ranges from kindergarten to high school and covers topics like well site safety and the formation and recovery of fossil fuels.

Stefan Warner, another Climate March organizer, said while the industry permeates political, commercial and educational spheres, Oklahomans notice many unique environmental problems, from water shortages to earthquakes that might be induced by fracking.

A simple rise in average temperatures during the summer months could be detrimental to low-income individuals who cannot afford to run the air conditioner in their homes, he said.

Average temperatures have increased over the last 50 years and will continue to increase throughout the 21st century, according to a 2013 Oklahoma Climatological Survey. The statement concluded that if the state failed to address global warming, the warm season would last longer, drought frequency and severity would increase and rain-free periods would become more common, but individual rainfall events would intensify.

Each speaker chosen for the opening ceremony at the march has been affected by climate change, Warner said. Following the speeches, the group will begin its march at 2:30 p.m.

A wide berth of interest groups support the event. Co-sponsoring alongside The Peace House are Turtle Rock Farm, Interfaith Power and Light OKC, Peace Education Institute, Oklahoma Sierra Club and Oklahoma United Methodist Coalition.

Batchelder expects between 200 and 600 people to attend the march.

The public is welcome.

Print headline:

Climate challenge: A planned march is intended to challenge climate denial.

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