Days ago we had our first snowstorm of the year and today it is 60 degrees. The temperatures are rising. The seas are rising. But what gives me hope is that we are rising.
In the midst of the climate crisis, we are gathered to fight for a livable planet. We are gathered to fight for our futures that are being sold out to corporations and fossil fuel companies. Our futures that are being sold out by politicians that perpetuate the culture of corruption and exploitation. Our futures, that can be secured only by fighting this fight together. The hope for change is in us. It is in us – rising up like we are today, dropping our plans, and acting on the priority of our time which is this fight to get old.
That’s it. To get old.
To be old, breathing air, drinking water, doing what every generation that came before us had the privilege of doing. These privileges have already been lost to so many. They’ve been lost to the kids in South Providence with the some of the highest rates of asthma in the country, with air that you can smell driving by even when your windows are closed.
These privileges have been lost by those wearing gas masks in cities in China where so much of what we buy is manufactured. They have been lost by the thousands of individuals that have woken up scared, unable to see, surrounded by smoke from wildfires due to our climate changed planet. They’ve been lost to the people in Texas whose water supply has been poisoned by chemical companies. By cultures in the Amazon that have been destroyed by oil drilling; whose people are plagued with cancer; whose pristine environment is now toxic. By people in Maine whose water has been stolen by Nestlé and whose wells are going dry. Privileges that could soon be lost to over half of our state if the Mayor of Providence succeeds in his plans to sell the rights to our water to transnational corporations that are responsible for this very crisis.
This reality is known. It’s proven by science. And even the science gets watered down. Even the science gets filtered by governments that don’t want us to be scared. That don’t want us to know the truth that 2 degrees warming is almost inevitable, that we are looking now at 5 degrees warming in the Arctic. That life as we know it will soon be over. That 11 years is an overstatement. That we are hitting tipping points now and that the safety window is vanishing. All this, and our politicians refuse to acknowledge it.
They refuse to acknowledge the danger we are in at the expense of those who are already suffering and at the expense of young people whose futures are not guaranteed. Instead, our politicians attempt to hide the truth and claim to take bold climate action while they support the expansion of fossil fuels.
We see that in our Ocean State, so vulnerable to sea level rise, with a Governor, Gina Raimondo, that has hidden data from the Department of Health that proves National Grid‘s liquefaction facility is detrimental to public health and safety. A Governor that supports a fracked gas power plant that would destroy the only forest of its kind in the northeast and would make toxic the water for all the surrounding cities and towns.
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The government that we are taught will protect us has put us in danger. To protect us we have each other and the few leaders that have risen to speak truth to power and transform our culture of extraction to a culture of sustainability. That means we must keep rising. We must keep standing in solidarity. We must support each other through this crisis. We must demand that the industries that have caused this crisis fund the solutions. And we must elect leaders that will work with us to create a green energy democracy now. We must make these not as requests, but as demands. We must continue to resist leaders that tell us the most important thing we can do is to study. To not worry. To prepare for a job in a future we know does not exist if we lose that fight.
The fact that we are here today is a demonstration that we know the truth and we do not accept it. We will not stand complacent as we are lead to an early grave by politicians that care more about their profits from corporations and fossil fuel companies than the people they allegedly represent.
We will fight until we win.
We have no choice.