Activists from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) “Climate Can’t Wait” project assemble on a street corner each week near the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill intercepting senators’ staff members as they walked to work. The group’s weekly action is a unique attempt to get their message across to the legislators through their staff that they need to take immediate action on climate change. Along with their large banner, the activists provided fresh coffee and pastries as an inducement for staff members to take a few moments out of their busy day to discuss the importance of immediate action for positive changes to begin solving the urgent global crisis.
Beyond this weekly event, all around the city posters and messages over the past few years keep appearing regularly regarding climate change and the various concerns of climate activists. A crop of recent signs ask “Got Methane despair?” posted at a Shell station is an updated version of the old “Got Milk” campaign while another calls for putting people over fuel using Native-American graphics that depict fish reminding us that clean “Water is Life.” Another sign calls our attention to a simple numerical fact that “Their power is in Dollars” and that “Our Power is in Numbers.” While a call to arms with “Putin Loves Big Oil” warns of profiteering and environmental damage caused by the Russian war in Ukraine and finally a local demand to end “Methane and electrify D.C.”
The most eerie is a notice for a vigil at the Supreme Court with a portrait of Wynn Alan Bruce the 50-year-old Buddhist, climate activist from Colorado who self-immolated on Earth Day in front of the court building in a protest over the lack of action for the ongoing climate crisis.
These highly visible signs with their visually stimulating and thought-provoking messages along the activists’ weekly presence are undoubtedly heard and seen by legislators as they travel in the city and talk with their staff. In total, they act as the proverbial “canary in a coal mine” as early warning signs that the environmental movement is alive and active and that the planet is in deep looming peril in need of immediate serious and focused action to resolve this life-threatening crisis.
(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.