Reminder: the People’s Climate March is coming up next month

I know I haven’t been blogging about climate change much lately because my mind has been on other things (and because I only have the energy to think, act, and write about so many issues at once). But I haven’t forgotten.

The People’s Climate March, which will take place in New York on September 21st, will be the single largest climate event to date.

This is going to be huge, and it’s important.

As Bill McKibben says in his call to action:

You can watch the endgame of the fossil-fuel era with a certain amount of hope. The pieces are in place for real, swift, sudden change, not just slow and grinding linear shifts: If Germany on a sunny day can generate half its power from solar panels, and Texas makes a third of its electricity from wind, then you know technology isn’t an impossible obstacle anymore. The pieces are in place, but the pieces won’t move themselves. That’s where movements come in. They’re not subtle; they can’t manage all the details of this transition. But they can build up pressure on the system, enough, with luck, to blow out those bags of money that are blocking progress with the force of Typhoon Haiyan on a Filipino hut. Because if our resistance fails, there will be ever-stronger typhoons. The moment to salvage something of the Holocene is passing fast. But it hasn’t passed yet, which is why September is so important.

I’m going to be there, and I hope you’ll join me.

You can check out the event’s transportation page to see if there are buses going from your area to the march. Many local 350.org chapters are also holding art builds before the event–there will be six here in Massachusetts alone–so even if you can’t attend the march itself, there are still ways to get involved.

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Climate activism, carousels, and cherry blossoms: a day in the city

fossil fuel divestment rally in front of massachusetts state house

I’m starting a new temp job next week, so yesterday I took advantage of my free time and the gorgeous weather to spend the entire afternoon taking in the beauty of Boston in the spring.

I went into the city to rally for fossil fuel divestment at the Massachusetts State House. We sung “Sing for the Climate,” lined up on the steps like a choir, and then people split up to deliver flowers to the representatives who support the divestment bill and clocks (message: time is running out) to those who don’t.

There’s nothing quite like protesting in the spring, when anything feels possible. Especially when, not only have two Massachusetts towns divested from fossil fuels in the past week, but so has the first major university. I’m starting to have hope that the tide is finally–if excruciatingly slowly–turning. That we really will build a better world.

giant earth surrounded by black balloons representing carbon dioxide at fossil fuel divestment rally

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It’s Earth Day. I have thoughts (and a bunch of links).

woman wearing hot pink shirt climbing out of tree roots in the woods

The Laura in her natural habitat, in the Berkshires about a year ago. I just noticed that the rock in the upper left corner of the picture looks like a heart!

I’m trying to catch up on all the Earth Day-related news and essays around the internet, and there are a lot–you should see how many tabs I have open right now. To start, I’ll point you to the Nation, which has devoted all of its content today to climate change (!!). So far, I recommend these:
The change within: the obstacles we face are not just external.
“Jobs vs. the environment”: how to counter this divisive big lie.

In Keystone XL-related news, Obama has delayed his decision on the pipeline…again. On one hand, it’s kind of annoying that he keeps putting it off; but at the same time, it’s a sign of progress. As Bill McKibben puts it, “[W]ithout a broad and brave movement, DC would have permitted this dumb pipeline in 2011. So on we go.”

Today is the start of the Reject and Protect protest against KXL, which is hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (yes, that’s really what they call their group of farmers, ranchers, and Native American tribal leaders). There will be a big rally on Sunday, and many of my fellow Bostonians will be there. I don’t have the travel-energy for it, after two trips to Philadelphia in the past few weeks to see my grandmother, but I will be there in spirit.

A protest I might actually be able to attend is the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 20-21. Finally, a major climate action within a few hours of Boston! And I love NYC, so I appreciate any excuse to go there.

Now, on to the thoughts–which are about one particular article. To be fair, I didn’t read the whole thing, just a post about it, so take my reactions with a grain of salt; but I didn’t have the brain-space to read the whole thing when even a few quotes pissed me off so much. The article is a New York Times Magazine profile of Paul Kingsnorth, a former environmental activist who publicly gave up on climate change and retreated to the woods to found a literary journal and hold Burning Man-like parties.

As Heather Smith at Grist points out, his group “sounds less like an enduring movement with relevance to the environmental movement as a whole than a midlife crisis.” 

And then she really nails it: “In declaring the largest problem of our era unfixable, Kingsnorth gave himself — and a few other earnest, idealistic types – the perfect excuse to put on a badger mask and go party in the woods.”

My take on all this: it takes a metric fuckton of privilege to give up on the world. Continue reading

Climate disaster is not a white, middle-class issue: on narratives and the need to build bridges

I’m somewhere in here. (source: 350MA Facebook page)

Last night, I attended a last-minute vigil protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, inspired by the State Department’s release of a report that green-lighted it.

It was heartening to be part of such a large crowd assembled at such short notice–there were over 200 people gathered in Harvard Square alone, and it was one of multiple events in the Boston area. It felt good to sing and chant and hold signs, to make our unequivocal “NO!” to climate destruction heard. It was heartening to feel the warmth of community, of spirited resistance, on a snowy day.

And yet. I looked around at all the white, middle-class, crunchy/hippie/folkie faces and thought, “We’re never going to succeed if we can only appeal to people like ourselves.”

We can only save the world if we can build bridges, if we can build a movement that resonates with people from all walks of life.  Climate disaster is not an issue that affects only canvas-bag-toting, organic-food-eating, voluntary-simplicity-loving liberals–we’re all in this together, and we need to face it together.

(A few caveats: I’m aware that Boston doesn’t represent the international climate movement, so what I’m saying may or may not apply on a larger scale. Also, I’m aware that it’s somewhat hypocritical of me to criticize the whiteness of local climate activism when the fat-positive events I’ve held have also been mostly white. I know it’s a problem, and I am working to change it.) Continue reading

Things that give me hope

1.) New York’s Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, reading her poem titled “New York City” at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration (transcript available here):

When I watch this young woman read, I can almost believe that change is possible. That the tides are turning. That we, the people, can and will rise.

Not just because of the beauty and fierceness and demand for justice that shines so clearly through her performance–although that alone is enough to blow me away.

But because this beauty and fierceness and demand for justice takes place at the swearing-in of a new mayor in the city that is America’s heart. The city that has been sanitized and stratified by 12 years of Bloomberg’s neoliberal policies. The city that has become an extreme–and extremely visible–symbol of an economic system that crushes lives and spirits.

The city that refuses to give up fighting.

In that fight, I see a world of new beginnings.

2.) Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “The arc of justice and the long run: hope, history, and unpredictability.”

Solnit argues that “[s]ometimes cause and effect are centuries apart; sometimes Martin Luther King’s arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice is so long few see its curve; sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc.” She gives examples of social and political seeds that germinated for years, decades, even centuries before bearing fruit: the role of hip-hop in the Arab Spring uprisings; the influence of Thoreau’s writing, which sold few books when he was alive, on both Gandhi and King; the effect that a seeing a talented black trumpet player had on a young man who grew up to help end segregation by aiding the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Quote of the day: Veteran’s Day and Typhoon Haiyan

Image from 350.org

We are deeply grateful to the folks who have sacrificed quality time with loved ones, health, limbs, and everything else for our country. You are forever heroes to us.

But we want to honor veterans of a different war, today. Veterans who didn’t volunteer to fight, but instead were forced to. Veterans who pay a steep price, against their will, so that the rest of us can enjoy lights, fancy cars, fast trains, and every other luxury that currently comes from the fossil fuel industry.

So much love and honor to our Pilipino sisters and brothers, and our deepest apologies. We promise, everyday, to work towards a just, sustainable world, where you don’t have to bear the brunt of the burden, for the world’s extreme energy addiction.

Melodeego

Typhoon Haiyan is a horrific, heart-breaking reminder of what’s at stake in the fight for climate justice. We need to fight like hell to prevent more such disasters from happening. And in the meantime, the survivors in the Phillipines need our help. CNN has a list of ways to help here.