Today’s original art for The Phoenix is by Laila Arêde.
We are in a climate emergency. And you were born at just the right moment to help change everything.
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Trees are great. I love them. But today is not about trees.
Today is not about recycling or organic food or carpooling.
Earth Day is about power.
The first Earth Day was revolutionary. It can be revolutionary again.
Specifically, at this exact moment in history, a year after a global pandemic began that has set emissions soaring at their second-highest growth rate in history, 51 years after the first Earth day, with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at their highest in at least 3.6 million years and species extinctions accelerating dozens of times faster than the rate that wiped out the dinosaurs, and after centuries of extractive capitalism systematically killing Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized people, this day is about the power of deciding who lives and dies.
It’s about tearing down the system and rebuilding something better that works for everyone.
It’s about justice.
We can do better than this
We must do better than just hoping for a better world. We’ve got to demand it.
This is the last, best chance we have to thrive.
There is absolutely no time left.
A Green New Deal is inevitable – if we keep on fighting for it.
This is a terrifying moment because it is so important, and the people who realize that – people on the front lines of climate violence around the world – are being told to wait.
The anger in these words I’m writing now is because I know that what needs to happen isn’t hard at all once we get enough people demanding it.
The best thing of all is there’s a shared vision of a world where every living thing matters. Building upon hundreds of years of wisdom, struggle, and science, we know that a flourishing human civilization is no longer possible without it being rooted in ecology and reverence for the interconnection and interdependence of us all on each other.
And, as it turns out, that vision of a better world is really really popular.
The Green New Deal is mainstream now — and was reintroduced this week in Congress.
Today, President Biden made a commitment to cut US emissions in half by 2030. That’s not good enough. According to Climate Action Tracker, that would put the US – historically the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases – on pass to not only miss the 1.5°C goal enshrined in Paris, but 2°C as well. Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate says that the 2030 goal is still too far off. “It is hard to celebrate when your crops are failing, your house is flooded and your children are hungry,” she writes.
The scale of action we need to meet this moment is at least five times larger than Biden’s climate plan. He must do more.
This week, the Movement for Black Lives, the climate + community project, and members of Congress led by Cori Bush all introduced new aspects of a Green New Deal to specifically support marginalized groups at the scope and scale that science and justice demand. These are the plans we must fight for.
We can do this. We *will* do this.
Decades of organizing by Indigenous, Black, Brown, Asian, Pacific and frontline people from around the world and everyone advocating for justice in all its forms have led to this current moment.
This is a day to commit yourself to this fight, centuries in the making.
So plant a tree if you want to, especially if it inspires you to dream bigger, if it helps create community, if it helps you imagine a world worth fighting for. Maybe one day, in 10 years or so, you’ll see that tree you planted today just a little bit taller and the entire neighborhood around it has been transformed and know you helped make that change possible.
But today is not about trees. It’s about justice.
We have everything we need to make this happen. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to wait any longer for a livable planet.