Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

It's Our Generation, It's Our Choice: Climate Justice Now

Climate

When I learned about climate change for the first time in middle school I was stunned; stunned that I hadn’t found out before, that this wasn’t something my parents talked about every day. The atmosphere might heat up to to the point that the earth would become uninhabitable? I could not comprehend why everyone in society wasn’t running around scheming of ways to ensure our survival on this planet.

When I got to college, I joined Swarthmore Mountain Justice, the on-campus group campaigning for divestment from fossil fuels.

And what would this mean for my home on the outskirts of Austin, Texas? Already, our well water had run out one summer. We went for quite a while without being able to shower or flush the toilet until we had the money to get the well dug a little deeper to reach the aquifer below. I wondered what a hotter planet would mean for our water system: how many more times would we need to dig deeper? How could a summer even hotter than our already scorching days, hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, be habitable?

I tried to think about what I could do to minimize the harm I caused personally through my carbon footprint. I tried to save every page I was handed in school to write my notes on the backs. I recycled and composted obsessively, and wondered whether I could save water by hand washing clothes or energy by line drying. I would cringe every time we sat in traffic, imagining all the tiny particles of carbon our car was coughing out into the atmosphere, slowly eroding the chances of future generations to experience the lushness of a dewy, green spring.

Yet ultimately, the task at hand felt impossible. I lived thirty minutes outside Austin in an area where public transportation does not exist. My family did not have the money to live in the city, so this meant driving twenty minutes to school every day and that there was no way for me to reduce these emissions. The lack of public transportation in Texas simply does not allow most citizens to live in a way that could be considered “environmentally conscious.”

Gradually I realized—our highways and suburbs were never meant to be compatible with a sustainable future. The system was designed to necessitate fossil fuel dependence. It is no coincidence that Exxon has been cowering under climate denialism for decades for the sake of rogue profit. Exxon’s thirty year long campaign to spread doubt about basic climate science has undermined efforts to prevent runaway climate change and has cost millions of lives. Those hit the hardest by climate disaster are communities of color, communities of low economic status, women and young people. Fossil fuel companies stand to gain the most by stifling the stories of those in the Global South whose resources they exploit, whose water and air they poison, and whose lives the media outlets might fail to mourn when they are swept away by every-intensifying natural disasters. It will take all of us, fighting together and demanding a just and sustainable transition, to turn the tides on environmental racism and the devaluing of black, brown and immigrant lives.

When I got to college, I joined Swarthmore Mountain Justice, the on-campus group campaigning for divestment. For the first time, I feel that I have power in my hands to effect change. For so long, I worried that the things I could do on my own to combat climate change were not enough, but I have seen incredible progress in the work we have done as a collective. Together we can leverage formidable power. Joining together with other students, we will demand the systemic and institutional changes from our leaders we need to ensure a sustainable future. We will demand a just transition away from environmental racism, and an end to the laws that tear families apart and reinforce the illusion that we are anything less than a global community.

As young people, we have the right and the power to create the world we would like to see—world which sustains life; a world which does not discriminate, commit violence or value a life less based on race or class, nationality or immigrant status. The need to see these changes come about has never been so urgent, and I have never felt more excited to join with other students, to take to the streets and demand that politicians take real leadership on the critical issues of our generation.

If that’s a vision you want to be part of, sign up to join the action on Nov. 9th in Washington, DC.

This blog post was written by Sophia Zaia, a student organizer with Swarthmore Mountain Justice, on why she’s joining the Our Generation, Our Choice mobilization.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Fracking Companies Warned to Scale Back Operations Linked to Earthquakes or Get Sued

16 Terms You Need to Know to Understand Climate Change

CBS Reporter Ben Swann Tells the Truth About CDC Vaccine Cover-Up

Hidden Camera Prank Exposes Absurdity of Climate Deniers’ Arguments

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

People relax in Victoria Gardens with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London, as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius on June 25, 2020. NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP via Getty Images

The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.

Read More Show Less
A crowd of people congregate along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP / Getty Images

By Melissa Hawkins

After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.

Read More Show Less
A Chesapeake Energy drilling rig is located on farmland near Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 2012. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.

Read More Show Less
Youth participate in the Global Climate Strike in Providence, Rhode Island on September 20, 2019. Gabriel Civita Ramirez / CC by 2.0

By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud

Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?

Read More Show Less
A crowd awaits the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota on June 23, 2012. Mindy / Flickr

Fire experts have already criticized President Trump's planned fireworks event for this Friday at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial as a dangerous idea. Now, it turns out the event may be socially irresponsible too as distancing guidelines and mask wearing will not be enforced at the event, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Mountains of produce, including eggs, milk and onions, are going to waste as the COVID-19 pandemic shutters restaurants, restricts transport, limits what workers are able to do and disrupts supply chains. United States government work

By Emma Charlton

Gluts of food left to rot as a consequence of coronavirus aren't just wasteful – they're also likely to damage the environment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The gates of the unusually low drought-affected Carraizo Dam are seen closed in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico on June 29, 2020. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico's governor declared a state of emergency on Monday after a severe drought on the island left 140,000 people without access to running water, despite the necessary role that hand washing and hygiene plays in stopping the novel coronavirus, as The Independent reported.

Read More Show Less