Michaelson: Our Planet is Dying.

Our planet is dying, and our call for change has been ignored time and time again.

by Gavin Michaelson

For far too long, our calls for change have been ignored — particularly, those relating to the climate crisis. Time after time, those who have called for change have been ridiculed and ignored. Now is no different. The damage done is already irreversible, but it is not too late to limit the impact that greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions have had on our planet. However, that window for change is rapidly closing.

On Oct. 11, thousands of climate activists began protesting in D.C. for President Joe Biden to declare a national climate emergency and to end the use of fossil fuels. The event began on Indigenous Peoples Day, and many Indigenous leaders were among the protesters. Thousands traveled from all over the country to join the protest in hopes of finally forcing the government to take action on this world-wide issue, and for President Biden to hold true to his campaign promise to protect our planet. Protestors were not afraid to point out these clear flaws within the Biden administration and demanded more action.

Over 100 protestors, including Indigenous leaders, were arrested in front of the White House that day.

The cries for help have been ignored for years, and as the issue worsens every single day, the government continues to fail to make the necessary changes. Pipelines are continually being built, oil spills continue to kill our marine life (notably the recent 25,000 gallon oil spill in Southern California in early October), natural disasters continue to reach extremes and our planet continues to suffer for the careless nature of humanity. Not to mention the fact that climate change disproportionately affects those who are subject to socioeconomic inequalities, oftentimes leaving communities of color victim to environmental hazards, opening the issue of environmental racism.

Environmental racism is the oppression of low-income and communities of color through environmental practices and policies that place these communities near polluting facilities, pipelines or major highways. As a result, communities of color are victim to harmful pollutants at a much higher rate than white and wealthier communities. These practices have disproportionately affected the overall health and well-being of communities of color at a much higher rate than white communities. We need to ensure that our government is fighting to achieve environmental justice and protecting all communities, granting everyone the right to a clean and healthy environment.

President Biden called for the support of communities of color to be elected into office, and while there seems to have been an effort, he still has a long way to go in staying true to his promises. It is our job, as citizens, to hold him accountable and ensure that he assumes responsibility to uphold his promise to combat both environmental racism and the climate crisis at large.

At the end of October, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (COP26) will meet for two weeks to discuss the issue of climate change, and hopefully set forward a plan to aggressively address the issue by cutting greenhouse gases and emissions to preserve the planet. Due to the pandemic, the meeting did not take place last year. In order to “preserve” Earth, the only option is to take rapid measures to decrease toxic emissions, cutting emissions in half worldwide by 2030. If that goal is not achieved, we will likely be too far gone to avoid the worst of climate change’s impacts.

While we are moving forward on a bumpy path plagued by the industrialization of the world, it is of utmost importance to advocate for environmental justice. We have such a short time to make such a major change, and we need all hands on deck. To get involved, reach out to local legislators, get involved to put an end to projects in our communities that contribute to this rapidly growing issue and do your research to learn more about this crisis. The only way we put an end to climate change is if we do it together. No more excuses. We need to make a change, and we need to do it now.