“Hatred is the fury of those who do not share our goals, and its object is death and destruction. Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change. But our time is getting shorter. We have been raised to view any difference other than sex as a reason for destruction, and for Black women and White women to face each other’s angers without denial or immobility or silence or guilt is in itself a heretical and generative idea. It implies peers meeting upon common basis to examine difference, and to alter those distortions which history has created around our difference. For it is those distortions which separate us. And we must ask ourselves: Who profits from all this?”-Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism.”
Now, Audre Lorde was most likely not addressing the climate crisis in her essay, “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism.” As a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Lorde’s purpose in this is to enforce the necessity of interdependence between women in order to dismantle racist obstacles. However, this collaborative ideology can be applied in a number of ways, and proves itself to be the most viable solution when taking action to prevent complete social and ecological collapse.
Specifically in the United States, an organization called Sunrise Movement is building an army of young people to demand action in the climate crisis. Formed after the election of Donald Trump, their main priority is to implement the Green New Deal. This is non-binding legislation that outlines goals and aspirations to address the climate emergency and create millions of jobs in the process. On their website, they explain that, “We are not looking to the right or left. We look forward. Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.”
Many have been introduced to this movement through their sit-in at Nancy Pelosi’s office, where they demanded congressional action on the climate crisis. Their current campaign is based around the phrase “Change the Debate,” where they are forcing 2020 presidential candidates to address the upcoming climate apocalypse. On July 30-31, 20 candidates for president will walk onstage in Detroit, Michigan for a debate. Sunrise says: “They’ll ask for our votes. We’ll ask them to give a damn about our lives.”
On the international scale, Extinction Rebellion is an organization “that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change.” Discontented with the manner in which governments around the world address the urgent issue of climate change, they have taken matters into their own hands to demand action. They lead and organize non-violent protests and gather people to rally for effective environmental policy that is sustainable for society and the overall well-being of the planet.
They organize behind three main demands: Forcing governments around the world to “tell the truth” about the ecological crisis, zero emissions by 2025, and a participatory democracy in the form of a Citizen’s Climate Assembly.
Recently, this group organized an “International Rebellion” that lasted from April 15-22. Activists from around the world participated in civil disobedience in order to demand action on the global climate and ecological emergency. This included a peaceful block of traffic on major roads and a disruption of local city, state, and federal buildings. Their actions led the UK Parliament to declare a climate emergency. Unfortunately, this does not legally require the government to act.
Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old climate activist, started school strikes on Fridays to push for the Swedish parliament to enact transformative policy change to combat climate change. Thunberg began leading the school strike when she was fifteen, sitting outside the Parliament of Sweden by herself with a sign that said “school strike for climate” in Swedish.
By peacefully protesting and using collective action, Thunberg inspired students around the world to start their own Friday climate strikes in their own cities. She was inspired by the student strikes for gun law reform in the US that were led by the students affected by the Parkland, Fl. school shooting in 2018. The climate strike has gained a large amount of coverage, including the TED stage on November 2018. Thunberg states, “Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action.”
The first global climate strike was March 15, rallying millions of students in 123 countries to demand policy makers to end the dependency on fossil fuels to mitigate global warming. There is a second strike on May 24 to continue to push for the progressive change that still has yet to be implemented all around the world. The students planning to attend this strike are empowered and inspired, they will not stop until sufficient change is made to protect their futures.
All these movements use non-violent measures to enact change, which is effective and galvanizes young people to make radical change in a credible manner. Government officials profit from our disagreements and inaction on climate change. The fight for a livable future includes collective action.
If you are a student, take part in the climate strike that is happening all over the world tomorrow! If your city has a Sunrise Hub or an Extinction Rebellion chapter, get involved! If your city doesn’t have one, start one (SM) (XR)! They may make us feel small, but we can make a difference—together.
If you live in the Flagstaff area, Sara just started a Sunrise Movement Hub! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved!