Tip O'Neill, the late speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, once said "All politics is local." That truism was painfully brought home last Saturday on Alexandria's Market Square to those warning of the disasters posed by the supposed threat of global warning.
Billed as "National STEP IT UP Day," the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) had scheduled a rally to alert the uneducated of an approaching disaster caused by rising sea levels as a result of global warning. That doomsday message struck a cord in less than a dozen citizens not counting the messengers themselves.
"We are one of 1,400 rallies throughout the United States today being staged to educate the public about the dangers of global warning and sea level rise. We are here to urge Congress to Step It Up on climate change," said Diana M. Dascalu, Esq., senior campaign strategist, CCAN, over the microphone from the Market Square stage as she valiantly tried to entice passersby to participate.
Although the rally was scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in fact it actually lasted from 12:20 p.m to 12:50 p.m. There were only two speakers — State Senator Patricia "Patsy" Ticer (D-30) and State Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-49).
The Mayor and City Council members were inside city hall at the regularly scheduled city council meeting and public hearings.
There were two blue streamers strung from the stage about half way to the Square's fountain. Each was about four feet off the ground. They were to represent the level of the Potomac River by 2050 if predictions of global warming proved accurate
"We have to speak out. Al Gore has done more good since he is not running for office because he has taken global warning as his prime cause," Ticer told the 21 people gathered before her.
"People in power have been looking the other way because it's hard to rock the power structure and particularly the power companies. It's very difficult for public officials to stand up against the power companies because we need the power companies," she said.
"Virginia's greenhouse gases are up 34 percent since 1990. We are 13th in the nation for the worst air pollution. We are going to be wiped out just like the polar bears," Ticer said.
REFERRING TO INACTION on the subject of global warming during the last session of the Virginia General Assembly, Ebbin said, "By the time we get to Virginia's 450th Anniversary Jamestown will be under water."
Lamenting the Assembly's disinterest in the subject, Ebbin told his sparse audience, "I introduced legislation on the subject of greenhouse gases and global warming that didn't go anywhere. We are dealing with seemingly immovable objects" referring to his fellow legislators.
Bram Groen, NOVA chapter coordinator, CCAN, questioned why so few had turned out. Market Square has nearly overflowed when rallies have been held to protest the existence of the Mirant's Potomac River Generating Station. But, that is a local issue.
The streets of Old Town were filled with people. Two tour buses had unloaded what appeared to be young students immediately in front of Market Square as supporters marched by with their signs heralding the rally. None paid any attention.
There were two boxes on stage filled with postcards addressed to Sen. John Warner (R-VA) and Sen. James Webb (D-VA). The message urged them to "support legislation that would require that the United States reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050."
The cards pointed out that "greenhouse gases cause global warning and are produced by the burning of fossil fuels." Mirant's plant at the north end of Old Town is a coal-fired facility. Coal is a fossil fuel. Mirant is local. Polar bears and melting glaciers are not.
As the small group disbursed the two boxes holding the postcards remained nearly full. "Take them and give them to your neighbors," Dascalu urged in a final attempt to breath life into the rally that mirrored the grey, dreary, chilly, threatening sky above.