OpEds by Got Green appear in the South Seattle Emerald every month.
by Marion Romero and James Williams
As the month of April begins to unfold, the infamous Earth Day rolls around. Like years before, many people will plant trees, participate in park clean ups, or attend fairs that focus on sustainability and a cleaner planet. While these are positive things, we must understand that celebrating the Earth one day a year will not stop climate change.
Warmer oceans, stronger storms, and increased frequency of big wildfires and earthquakes around the world have all been experienced in recent years. These patterns are the result of abuses to Mother Earth such as water and air pollution or fracking to extract oil and natural gas deposits. There is about a 20-year lag between the cause and effect in much of environmental pollution. This means frontline communities around the world are currently paying the price for burning of fossil fuels in the ’90s and early 2000s. Looking a bit deeper, it means the ticket for the next decade is already punched. More storms and environmental shake up are on the menu.
The urgent change that we must all start talking about and acting upon is to avert catastrophic effects that might make the earth unlivable in the expected lifespan of babies born today. There is a relatively small range of conditions on earth that make life possible for humans. So the fight we are involved in is to keep the earth livable for ourselves and future generations. There was a big report from many of the world’s leading climate scientists in 2018 which warned we have 12 years to stop digging and burning of fossil fuels before we pass a point of no return where the planet will be on an exit less path to becoming a place where our species can no longer survive. If that scenario plays out, humans would go extinct like the dinosaurs.
Now, there is need to dream boldly and act with urgency to create a better future.
In this better future, we imagine a Seattle that is ready for climate disasters and has infrastructure in place to protect low income and vulnerable communities. We see a region that has completely weaned itself off fossil fuels and become a leading exporter in community-run renewable energy strategy and infrastructures. We see a King County with cooperatively owned fleets of Zero Emission Snow Plows and Food Bank or Meals for Elders operations that deliver to regulars during extreme weather.
Because knowledge of climate and the sacredness of nature is so common in this future, Water Protectors and Forestry Workers are celebrated like professional athletes of today. Pro-active fire management (the art of stopping big fires before they start) soars to new heights. Along the same lines, by properly resourcing and prioritizing the selective harvesting and thinning of some trees, strategic brush removal, and a limited number of small, controlled burnings by the Washington State Forestry Service leads the way in reducing the frequency of big wildfires in this state to something less than the frequency massive earthquakes.
We believe we can get there. We have to get there. Future generations are depending on us.
All these changes will take some work. So, we also believe in the comrades who contribute blood, sweat, and tears to turning the big ship that is our economy. We know it will take some unity. So we believe in the organizing that is uniting communities under the banner of Just Transition. We understand the ones closest to the problems are also closest to real solutions. So, we will continue to lift-up leadership from frontline folk in this battle for environmental justice.
Just Transition is the framework for a fair shift to an economy that is ecologically sustainable and equitable for all members. After generations of pumping and polluting, our economies addiction to growth and profit is severely undermining the life support systems of the planet. Obviously, an economy based on removing resources from a finite ecosystem faster than the system has capacity to regenerate will eventually come to an end — either through implosion or intentional reorganization.
Transition is inevitable. Justice is not.
At Got Green, we build as part of the world-wide movement bring about that Just Transition. Every day, our organizing contributes to a people’s movement that will eventually shift from extractive to a living economy.
Here are a few things you can do to support Got Green’s work to bring about our brighter and completely sustainable future:
Got Green’s Green-A-Thon:
Earth Day Community Canvass — Saturday, April 20 (two days before Earth Day)
Community Appreciation Party — Thursday, May 9th
Moving forward, we need to keep looking at the bigger picture.
All must acknowledge that we only have one earth. People can’t continue to keep taking resources like there is no end. Making it plain, what we do to earth we do to ourselves. If we continue to destroy the earth, we will to destroy ourselves.
Help us treat every day like Earth Day.
This is the way to bring about the needed change to our world economy.
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Featured Image: The Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest near in California began on Aug. 17, 2013 (U.S. Forest Service photo.)