Category: Climate Change

End the Hot Girl Summer

“The relationship we have with everything that Earth offers, it’s about reciprocity. That’s the only way we are going to learn how to shift our culture from an extraction culture to a balanced and harmonious culture with the land.” Xiye Bastida, indigenous activist from San Pedro Tultepec, Mexico

Millions stood out in the heat, screaming at world leaders, trying to make them understand the dire consequences of their inaction. After centuries of industrial revolution, without a thought for how human innovation might affect our planet, time’s up. We need to reverse the damage.
The US is uber powerful, yet the country is doing nothing to counter the effects of climate change or even limit its contribution. Individually, we can do small things, but at some point, boycotting straws is not enough. Addressing climate change requires concrete legislative changes and scientific advancement. The US is far behind other countries. The government is still just making a half-assed effort to reduce carbon emissions, convert to minuscule amounts of renewable energy, and regulate cars with poor gas mileage. That’s old news in Denmark. They’re designing methods to pull carbon out of the air, while the US hasn’t even stopped putting it in.
So, what’s next?
We need to create laws that will fund and support massive energy reform—renewable energy is so easy guys! We need to make solar panels and wind energy affordable and accessible. We need to set standards for minimum gas milage in cars and trucks. We need to regulate monstrosities like Chevron, and stop relying on oil money. We need to ban fracking. We need to put faith and funding into scientists who can come up with strategies not only to reduce our carbon footprint, but to repair the atmosphere. We need a #GREENNEWDEAL ASAP. Social change can only go so far without legislative change. Let’s pressure the people in power—make them fear for their careers.
We need to stop enabling capitalism and imperialism. Capitalism relies on the exploitation of natural resources—like oil, gases, and minerals. The US alone consumes over 20 million barrels of petroleum a day. A DAY.
Our government should be leading the charge, yet it’s drowning in a pool of cash and carbon dioxide. Until the US (and the world) stops kissing big business on the toes, climate change will keep progressing. Climate change is a commodity. The people who are denying it and refusing to combat it are generally the same ones who are profiting from it. It’s time to divest from the fossil fuel industry and invest in renewable energy and creation of green jobs. Our survival literally depends on it.
We need to support young leaders, who are disrupting society, and making those in power leap out of their comfort zones. And not just Greta Thunberg—we need her voice, but she is what the media wants us to see. If we’re going to follow her lead, we need to also follow youth leaders of color. We need to support the indigenous youth, like Helena Gualinga, who is fighting drilling in the Amazon rainforest and Autumn Peltier, the “water warrior” and Ashinabek Nation’s chief water commissioner (she’s nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize for her environmentalism). We need to support environmental justice activists of color like Nyiesha Mallet, who is a voice for communities of color who are disproportionately affected by climate change, Irsa Hirsi, creator of the U.S Youth Climate Strike (she’s also Ilhan Omar’s daughter), and Mari Copeny, the 12-year-old named “Little Miss Flint” for her advocacy for clean water in Flint, MI. This is only a few of them. There are dozens of young leaders of color, all over the world, who are fighting for their communities and the Earth.
Even if we stop actively contributing to climate change, it won’t reverse itself. This is not like a human war. There are no watered-down promises and peace treaties. This is a war on Earth, and nature always wins. We should be fighting on nature’s side, because believe it or not, having a functional planet will benefit us too. A war against nature is a war against ourselves. Act now. End the hot girl summer, or whatever we’re calling it.

#SavetheAmazon

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

The funniest thing on Instagram this week was the tweet repost that said “the wrong Amazon is burning” and “the wrong ice is melting”. After that, it got less funny. There was the guy who tried to say that the fires burning down 20% of the Earth’s oxygen-producers are fake news. He probably blames the vegans. Then the person who thinks the fires are actually good for the rainforest, like a controlled burn to clear dead brush and branches.
Conspiracy theories are fun, but in all seriousness, there seems to be some confusion over the true root of the fires. I’ve had a few people ask for my opinion, so here’s my best analysis:
Recently, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro passed a new environmental policy that revokes protections for rainforest preservation. In a matter of days, he disposed of three decades of environmental policy. The deforestation has increased exponentially, to the point that Norway and Germany have temporarily halted funding for projects in Brazil. France, who holds €381 billion in Mercosur stocks, may pull out of the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement, a massive trade deal between the EU and Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) intended to improve worker and environmental conditions on exports.
As part of Bolsonaro’s campaign promise to improve the Brazilian economy, he plans to annihilate the world’s largest rainforest. Removing environmental restrictions is economically motivated. In addition to his new environmental policy, he encouraged farmers, ranchers, and loggers to utilize the Amazon resources and land. In fact, he actually planned some “fire days”, where ranchers could burn the rainforest together. Think of it as an ice breaker, the farmers get to know each other through arson, and they also help melt icebergs in the future.
Environmentalists say that during the dry season, farmers burn patches of land to expand grazing acreage for their cows. So far this year, 73,000 fires have been recorded. That’s an 83% increase from 2018. Bolsonaro is actually trying to blame leftist conservationist NGOs (non-governmental organizations), arguing that they want to demonize him. This is simply a red herring—a way to conceal his role in endorsing arson.
Back to “funny thing” number three, controlled burns are sometimes used to refresh soil and help forests regrow in certain, dry ecosystems (I’m still against it, let nature do its business, it’s made it this far without us). However justified, controlled burns are incomparable—these fires are a brutal act of fascistic arson. In a just world, the illegality of burning native lands, that house millions of indigenous people and produce 20% of the world’s oxygen, would be obvious. Additionally, the fires have released the equivalent to almost 230 megatons of carbon dioxide, which prevents heat from escaping the atmosphere, thus contributing to global warming.
Destruction caused by humans is usually just a transaction. Bolsonaro and his supporters with financial interest in the Amazon will not take responsibility for the obliteration of the Amazon. It is not in the nature of people who consider their personal gains to be more important than moral culpability (this was my Jane Austen moment, it just means that they are greedy and mean).
Some might argue that justice can’t be served for those without voices, but I’m pretty sure trees have been talking wayyyyy longer than us (Ents, guys, Ents). Check out our Action Page for some things you can do to help #SavetheAmazon

Sources:
“The Amazon Is on Fire – How Bad Is It?” BBC News, BBC, 23 Aug. 2019, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49433767.
“Beef Sustainability: McDonald’s.” Beef Sustainability | McDonald’s, corporate.mcdonalds.com/corpmcd/scale-for-good/beef-sustainability.html.
Brown, Shelby. “The Amazon Rainforest Is on Fire: What We Know, and How You Can Help.” CNET, CNET, 21 Aug. 2019, http://www.cnet.com/how-to/the-amazon-rainforest-is-on-fire-what-we-know-so-far-and-how-you-can-help/.
“EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement.” Trade – European Commission, ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/eu-mercosur-association-agreement/.
Neslen, Arthur. “Burger King Animal Feed Sourced from Deforested Lands in Brazil and Bolivia.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 21 Aug. 2017, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/01/burger-king-animal-feed-sourced-from-deforested-lands-in-brazil-and-bolivia.
“The Rainforest Alliance’s Response to the Wildfires in the Amazon Rainforest.” Rainforest Alliance, Rainforest Alliance, 22 Aug. 2019, http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/articles/rainforest-alliance-response-to-wildfires-in-amazon-rainforest.
Reuters. “Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Without Proof, Accuses NGOs Of Setting Amazon Rainforest On Fire.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 21 Aug. 2019, http://www.huffpost.com/entry/brazil-bolsonaro-ngos-amazon-rainforest-fire_n_5d5d9eede4b002d8c5304952.
Riederer, Rachel. “An Uncommon Victory for an Indigenous Tribe in the Amazon.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 15 May 2019, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/an-uncommon-victory-for-an-indigenous-tribe-in-the-amazon.
Yeung, Jessie. “Blame Humans for Starting the Amazon Fires, Environmentalists Say.” CNN, Cable News Network, 22 Aug. 2019, http://www.cnn.com/2019/08/22/americas/amazon-fires-humans-intl-hnk-trnd/index.html.