It seems unlikely, doesn't it?
Except that the issue – whether fracking should be allowed in the state of California – seems so very cut and dried. Just considering the amount of water that gets tainted by the enormous amounts of toxic chemicals used in the fracking process to convert various sorts of hydrocarbons into natural gas – that alone would seem to make it a procedure that obviously must be banned by state regulatory agencies as too dangerous to even consider. Add to that the enormous number of groups, private citizens, scientists, environmentalists that have arrayed themselves against it, as opposed to fracking's proponents, who seem to be motivated entirely by profit - - well, it seems to be a no-brainer, doesn't it?
Unfortunately, it isn't, which is why Anna and I paid twenty dollars each to ride on a bus with other concerned Sonoma County folk down to Oakland to join in a demonstration.
With us in the car was a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter – it was the granddaughter's first march. Mine was in 1960, marching in San Francisco to protest France's nuclear tests in the South Pacific, a very similar cause, it seemed to me. We arrived in downtown Santa Rosa a little early, and at first I thought the crowd would be small. But no – more filtered in as time passed and, by the time we were scheduled to depart, our bus and a smaller one were both filled.
I enjoyed being driven to San Francisco by a professional as I relaxed in a moderately comfortable seat and enjoyed the view of my native Northern California. We knew a number of the people on board, and the mood was very upbeat.
( Common Dreams photo from Game-Changing March for Climate)
As we neared the rendezvous point in downtown Oakland, and began to see more and more people who were obviously there for the march, the feelings began to change, the excitement became tangible. It seemed as though every fourth person or so carried a sign that had something to do with opposing fracking – the frackers (frackophiles? Frackapublicans?) really should have realized how provocative that word is, how appropriate to all sorts of plays-on-words, many of them at least mildly obscene. We, the 350.org contingent, left the bus and began to assemble our signs, many others around us doing the same thing. The feeling of excitement and conviction grew as we prepared, as did the multitude around us. Then someone somewhere decided to move forward, and finally we all did, and the march was under way.
We walked for a little under two miles, and I'm glad it wasn't much farther. I know that there are people my age who attempt feats of endurance like walking the length of the United States Pacific Coast, but I'm certainly not one of them. So this walk was just long enough to make me feel useful, feel part of a large selection of my fellow citizens, marching to let our state government know that we wanted no part of this fracking stuff in our home place.
The signs were innumerable; I've never seen so many in a public demonstration, and many were so large that they needed numerous people to carry them along. Quite a few of their messages were addressed to California Governor Jerry Brown, with whom I went to high school back at the dawn of time. I didn't know Jerry well; he was two grades behind me and of course in high school that made him a virtual untouchable, but I'd followed his career over the years – Zen Buddhism, Linda Ronstadt, all the good gossip. He's always seemed like a pretty reasonable guy – a little stiff, sure – but I hoped as we walked along that he'd take this seriously.
Roland and Anne Jacopetti are active members of 350 Sonoma County. They wrote this article and are standing to the left of the 350 Sonoma County Climate Action NOW banner.
Finally we arrived at Lake Merritt, our destination, and speeches began. The march itself had been mostly under partly cloudy skies, with a merciful amount of sunshine, so rain began almost as soon as we got there, not much, but enough to make me feel that Gaia had been kind to us and that she was on our side.
So...how many were we? The march's organizers said 8,000, law enforcement said 2,000 – the truth, as usual lay somewhere in between; I thought about 6,000. I was very happy to be there, and I'll certainly volunteer to do it again next time.
PLEASE CHECK OUT THE PRESS DEMOCRATS ARTICLE, Thousands march in Oakland against fracking.