Lately many of us have been commenting on the spring weather and flowers in bloom – in January. But as nice as it seems, it makes us uneasy and it should. In California, lakes, rivers and reservoirs are at record low levels. The snow pack, which stores freshwater in the form of snow and ice, barely exists. In rural areas, the fire season never stopped. Many species of fish, including salmon, are threatened. For farmers and ranchers, especially for family farms, it means a severe loss to their herds and crops. We are going to continue to feel the effects of this crisis as food and water costs go up.
Records are being broken around the world – record rainfall, record drought, record heat and record cold. In some parts of the world these extremes have meant the loss of tens of thousands of lives due to storms, crop failures, lack of water for animals and forcing millions from their homes
This crisis is caused by the drive for profits, by the banks and large corporations. They have continued with business as usual, dismissing the warnings of scientists around the world. Those who profit from the fossil fuel industry – oil, coal and natural gas want us to believe that this climate change is natural. Or they claim that human created climate change or global warming is just a “theory”. Scientists do agree that global warming is a reality and are testing their theories to figure out how and what is going on and how fast it is taking place.
We are told that the problem is too great and complex for us to understand and combat. But that is the message of those who defend their profits with this insanity. If we continue on this path, we are headed towards the end of life as we know it on this planet. James Hansen, a former head climate scientist at NASA, says we have to drastically reduce our carbon emissions or it is “game over”.
So what solutions are proposed? Instead of taking radical measures that aim at the root of the problem, the politicians propose minor alterations in how we work and live. We are told to use less water – that’s right. Drive less – that’s right. Use less electricity – that’s right. Recycle and waste less – that’s right. But that’s not enough. And it puts it all on us and that’s NOT right. The solution does lie with us. But not mainly as consumers, but as the majority who do the work of this society.
We do not profit from the continued destruction of the environment. We do not benefit from breathing in noxious fumes from cars, power plants or factories. Our children do not have healthy lives when they are being poisoned by the chemicals and toxins in the foods we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
So, what do we do? First we need to understand the source of the problems and to listen to what the scientists are saying instead of listening to the oil executives and their politicians. And we can start to be active where we are by dealing with what is happening on the job and in our communities. People all around the world are doing just that.
In Pittsburg, CA, hundreds of people have begun to organize against bringing massive amounts of crude oil to be stored in their community. Across the country people are opposing fracking – the pumping of poisonous water, under high pressure, deep underground to force out the natural gas trapped in the rock formations. People in Canada and the U.S. are mobilizing to block the extraction, shipping and refining of toxic tar sand oil of the Keystone XL pipeline. People near the Port of Oakland and Richmond are mobilizing against air borne pollution responsible for asthma.
Of course this is not enough. The real question in front of us is either climate change or system change. We are a part of this planet and must protect it in order to protect ourselves. The one percent, who own and run this system, are threatening our lives and the existence of life on the planet. We can’t afford to leave them in charge. We have no interest in continuing to live and work in a society whose goal is the profit of a few at the expense of everything else. We are the majority and if we are decided and determined and we organize – imagine what we can do. And, in reality, we have no other choice.