Organizers urged protesters to arrive from 10 a.m., but the march didn’t start until hours after that, meaning those who were in a rush to save the world and arrived early were able to stand for hours. hours in the pouring rain of Glasgow.
And what a rain it was, the kind of miserable weather that makes American pundits demean themselves by saying climate change is not real.
It was the kind of day you would watch and go back to bed, canceling plans in favor of coffee and the duvet.
A grayer day than Scottish weather parodies, the kind that sees you wearing a mask outside not to be Covid compliant but to ward off the cold.
Still, they still came, even if it at least superficially seems like they don’t need them.
COP26 is literally happening, with world leaders coming together to try to save the world, but having met 25 times before, maybe that’s a reason not to stop screaming.
And the people didn’t. There were protests throughout COP26, with around 30,000 people marching on Friday, but the numbers for the weekend blew the water up.
An estimated 100,000 people marched in Glasgow because a climate emergency isn’t just for Christmas, it’s forever, which isn’t very long if we keep it up.
And it was a party atmosphere. The world is on fire, and these people were there to have a good time trying to save it.
The day combined all the best elements of similar protests without any conflict, with an atmosphere so contagious that even the weather showed solidarity, sprinkling sunshine all afternoon.
The Communists marched alongside the Socialists, the trade unionists stood alongside the environmental groups and absolutely everyone was smiling.
There was drums and dancing, jazz musicians and, inexplicably, wonderful Bristolians disguised as Ghostbusters.
It was hard not to dance as you walked past each section, or to feel warmed by the sheer joy that emanated from those waving flags.
Very often, protests can escalate into violence or have a hint of nastiness beneath the surface.
And while there were a few unsavory signs, it was all done with the warmth and humor of people overflowing with enthusiasm, despite everything.
It was also, and I can’t stress this enough, not just vegans and hippies.
This is a diverse and representative group of people who have given up on their day in a week where everyone has been talking about climate change to make it clear that urgent action is needed now.
They were informed, satirical and well aware of what they expected from those who govern us.
It’s easy to see these things as a pointless protest to unwilling world leaders to listen, but it’s not really fair.
Nations are negotiating and discussing the issues right now, and throughout next week. Glasgow and the rest of the world have made it clear the public is watching.
Plus, they had a great time doing it, which is probably what it takes to make the world end after all.