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How ‘Green” is the Occupy Movement?

What started out as the Occupy Wall Street protest has rapidly morphed into a worldwide movement calling for change in how governments and business operate. US corporate media were slow to cover the activists who bedded down in New York City’s Zuccoti Park in the Wall Street financial district in September and refused to move. But in time, they made their voices heard in their protest over social and economic equality, greed, corruption and the influence over the government that favors what they claim is the 1% over the 99% of the population. The movement, initiated by a Canadian activist group Adbusters, struck a chord but it has to some extent suffered from a lack of focus and leadership.

Since its beginning in New York, “Occupy” movements have sprung up in several other cities around the world, echoing a widespread dissatisfaction with the tight government-business status quo.

But in the rush to condemn society’s inequalities, there has only been a limited raising of awareness about a crucial part of the equation – how our modern-day societies are wrecking the environment. Some environmental groups have joined in various protests and there have been efforts to minimize the “carbon footprint” of the protests through the use of bicycle electricity generators, solar power, and effective waste disposal.

Occupy protestors

Occupy protestors being sprayed with pepper spray, University of California

The protests around the world have attracted a fair share of oddballs and anarchists, but reports from the “frontlines” indicate most of the protestors are normal, caring individuals with just grievances. According to reports, environmentalists have been joining some of the protests. Carol Pierson Holding, in her blog post on Huffington Post entitled, Mother Nature Occupies Wall Street says green campaigners are now edging in, concerned to stress the negative effects of the consumerism-capitalist-government nexus is having on the environment.

Environmentalists, she says, were not all that welcome, given concerns that this “fringe group” might water down the main message of income inequality. Bill McKibben, the founder of the 350.org environmental group, spoke to demonstrators on Oct. 17, calling on people to remember the damage being done to the environment and to join him in Washington D.C. at a protest against the Keystone tar sands pipeline.

Environmentalists appear to be sharing the stage with other activist groups.

According to a report in Mother Nature Network by Russell McLendon, some environmentalists feel they share a common cause with the anti-greed, pro-labor oriented protest movement. “A few hundred” climate activists joined the Wall Street march, according to 350.org communications coordinator Molly Haigh, who says the Keystone XL protests have revived a latent zeal in the U.S. environmental community that’s now dovetailing with Occupy Wall Street.

“I think it’s been really huge, in terms of generating a feeling of affinity,” Haigh said. “Obviously, 1,200 people were arrested as part of the Keystone XL protests, so for a lot of those people it’s amazing to see this sort of awakening happening so soon afterward. And some of the same folks who were at those protests are coming back out, so it’s really exciting.”

Whether it is the Wall Street bailouts or the BP oil spill, high unemployment or high CO2 emissions, Occupy Wall Street aims to defend what it considers a mistreated majority from a privileged minority, according to Free Republic.

In the Green is the New Red blog, Will Potter gave five reasons why environmentalists and animal activists should also Occupy Wall Street. He said corporations are destroying the planet, and attacking environmentalists. He argued they can share tactics and says the whole movement is “bigger than all of us.”

350.org video on climate change and Occupy Wall Street

Anti-pipeline protest and Occupy Wall Street