By climbing a 140-foot crane and unfurling a large banner around sunrise yesterday, seven Greenpeace protesters made their "Stop Global Warming" message heard loud and clear to 17 environmental leaders from around the world -- and in the process ruined the Monday morning commute for thousands of Washingtonians and (oops!) actually contributed to global warming.
Keep reading for more on Greenpeace's not-so-green protest...
D.C. area rush hours can be rough even when everything goes right -- quiet weather, no major accidents and no major events. Throw an unexpected downtown protest into the mix and you've got yourself a recipe for traffic nightmare, which is exactly what many commuters experienced downtown and in Northern Virginia yesterday morning.
Officials responded to the Greenpeace protest by closing a stretch of 23rd St. between Constitution Ave. and C St., staging rescue squad trucks and other emergency equipment, and eventually arresting the protesters (for unlawful entry to the construction site) after they came down from the crane around 9 a.m.
Traffic responded by backing up all over downtown and onto bridges and major highways heading into D.C. from Northern Virginia.
Carroll Muffett, deputy campaigns director for Greenpeace, seemed quite pleased with the attention attracted by the protest: "We believe our message was heard," Muffett told the Washington Post. Muffett also mentioned, proudly, that government ministers meeting at the State Department to discuss global warming came outside to take pictures of the protest.
I'm guessing the thousands of drivers who were late to work and likely brimming with road rage were not as impressed as Muffett. Messing up someone's Monday morning commute isn't exactly the best way to garner sympathy or support for your cause. Not to mention some of those caught in the gridlock are probably elected officials or decision-makers involved in legislation and other actions related to climate change.
Of course, the traffic mess was probably exactly the kind of attention-getting disruption the protesters were hoping for. It seems that Greenpeace cares more about the publicity gained than it does the inconvenience, frustration and lost work hours suffered by the local community.
I do wonder, though, whether Muffett or others at Greenpeace care that their protest gave thousands of idling and slow-moving vehicles a chance to emit an extra helping of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere?