First, I’d like to apologize for my long absence. There have been quite a few changes on the homefront.
I was going to say that, next, we have to talk about 2016, but I just can’t think of anything nice to say about it, so I won’t say anything at all. A fantastic lesson from Kindergarten.
So, how about we look ahead at 2017?
We are at a crossroads at the moment. We can decide to be the big kids and lead the charge on sustainability and environmental protection, benefiting ourselves and our planet, or… we can go back on our promises at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, potentially letting others off the hook as well (I’m looking at you, China).
We’ve seen some remarkably brave people standing up for their clean air, land, and (in particular) water.
There have been low points, as well, showing us just how much of an impact we’ve had on our planet and our own quality of life. However, the tide is turning. The question is, can we (and will we) continue to reduce emissions?
There is, however, a ray of hope. As this article in The Atlantic explains beautifully, we may see an intersectional fellowship form between the social justice movements that have sprung up in the last few years—the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the modern feminists—and the environmental movement. Just as the Dakota Access Pipeline was originally rerouted around the mostly-white town of Bismark to reservation land (for fear of contaminating the town’s drinking water), so many other environmental issues disproportionately affect minorities and poor people, too.
It’s not just about clean air and water, but about our approach to agriculture as well. From policies that affect farmers themselves, to the food deserts created by agricultural policies favoring the overproduction of corn and soy, which then become cheap calories in the form of junk food thereby contributing to the obesity epidemic and increases in diabetes. When farm policies and health policies are at cross purposes, at a time when those who depend on the ACA are particularly vulnerable, and those most affected by these policies are poor, environmentalism must be treated as a social justice movement.
When I lived in New York State, I visited the Women’s Rights National Historical Park several times and was always struck by how close the women’s movement of the 1800s was to the abolitionist movement. And then I’m ashamed of the way the women’s movement split away to address white women’s issues, rather than considering and fighting for all human rights. Environmentalism is another human rights issue and I think it’s about time mainstream feminism started identifying with other social justice movements as well.
All this to say that, no matter what your background, there is a reason for you to become an environmental activist. If you support equal pay and fair wages, that’s an environmental issue, too. If you support equal access to healthcare, that’s an environmental issue, too. If you support health and security for those who live in disadvantages neighborhoods, that’s an environmental issue, too. Even if you support Wall Street and trickle-down economics, that’s an environmental issue, too.
For 2017, I hope you will make a resolution to be an active environmentalist for justice.