Original art for The Phoenix by Laila Arêde. Today’s art is called “the tree of life”.
We are in a climate emergency. And you were born at just the right moment to help change everything.
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Our moment is revolutionary
Tomorrow, the world will change.
But right now 230,000+ of our friends & family are dead. Our neighborhoods are locked in perpetual fear of torrential floods, raging fires, and racists with weapons of war. Our futures are being stolen.
It’s OK to be really really f’n angry about the world existing as it does in this moment. It’s OK to feel broken. It’s OK to break.
But you’re not breaking on your own. It’s not your fault the world has broken around you. You don’t have to accept it.
No matter who wins the election tomorrow, an escalation of this hell-world is not inevitable. You don’t have to cede your agency, your worthiness, to these forces of greed and destruction.
For centuries, rich men have rigged the system to make themselves even richer. They’ve exploited the planet and our bodies for their own personal gain. They’re trying to do it again, transparently, in plain view.
What I’m asking of you, right now, is to imagine yourself – yes, you – being a transformative force in the world.
I don’t have to tell you everything that’s at risk right now. And I can’t tell you anything about your dreams that you don’t already know in your own personal wordless, anxious certainty.
Let's use that anger to demand systemic change.
This is the moment everything changes
Decades from now, when we write the history of 2020, the most important and most lasting trend will be that – seemingly all at once – people’s voices mattered. Poor people and people of color, young people, marginalized people from all over the world, rose up in a too-late-but-right-on-time revolutionary movement to elevate the joint cause of racial justice, climate justice, economic justice into a broader Movement of Justice.
We know now – viscerally, in our hearts – that there are multiple ways to tell the story of a society. There are versions of the future that don’t end in apocalypse. In the labored cough of wildfire smoke or of virus, we can see a future where we can breathe again. In the grime of a flooded basement or of the smouldering remains of a family-owned business caught up in an uprising, we can see a future where housing, health care, and everything else each of us needs to thrive is a human right. In the moral clarity of every life cut short by a greenhouse-driven disaster or by racist violence or by structural inequality, we see the certainty of transformative change.
The racial reckoning, the climate emergency, and the crushing consequences of the pandemic as manifested through centuries of colonialism and extractive capitalism on worsening inhumane levels of inequality – they’re all coming to the fore at the same time.
A decade ago, in the middle of Barack Obama’s first term, these issues were buried below a veneer of incremental progress, with privileged folks like me wilfully ignoring what our neighbors have been telling us for centuries: Systemic problems need systemic change. In the 2010s, the fossil fuel industry got stronger because we had leaders that enabled an all-of-the-above response to crisis.
Fast forward to 2020, and after years of organizing, we’ve finally got a presidential candidate that has ending the fossil fuel industry as a core part of his campaign and climate change as his number one priority.
Joe Biden has promised more on climate than any other presidential nominee in history. That’s not an accident. He was pushed there by real people, people like me and you, who believe that a world centered on justice and a habitable planet are both non-negotiables.
In 2025, if Biden’s elected, he won’t accomplish all of that without a fight. And if Donald Trump wins, well, our fight will escalate. Whatever happens, it’s going to be imperfect. If we fight for it, we can bring catastrophic success on the issues we care about most no matter who wins.
Our future will not hinge on what happens tomorrow, or four years from now, or 40 years from now. There is *always* something worth fighting for.
Intolerance, discrimination, and imperialism have been American values for a long time. But so is solidarity. For our country and our planet to survive this century, we must remember that it is “self-evident” that people were created to be equal. We must remember that “liberty and justice for all” means *for all*. We must double down on our “pursuit of happiness”.
Let these truths radicalize you. And then, get to work and re-write your future.
A better world is possible
It’s no longer possible to continue on as we have over these past 500 years, relying on exploitation, genocide, and extractive capitalism to create an America for some, and a dystopia for everyone else. It is absolutely possible to choose a radically different path – a path that holds true to who we want to be as a country – and ensure a good life for everyone.
To get there, we’ll need to discard the old models of economic growth for the sake of growth and embrace concepts like sufficiency, decency, and justice. Earlier this year, a team of scientists found that by doing this on a global scale, we’ll be able to meet and exceed the requirements for providing every single person on the planet with the resources they need to live a good life, and radically repair the planet’s climate system at the same time.
If we do this, we’ll have moved through this moment of climate anxiety, arms locked, into a world of radical change at a pace we could only dream of a few years ago. Ours is an era of militant optimism. We are the people we waited for.
In 2025, we will not only honor the people whose land our ancestors stole and we still occupy, we’ll advance the generations-long repair work of honoring Indigenous sovereignty and returning control of the land to Indigenous hands. We’ll learn that building an ecological society for the 21st century can’t happen without reparations for the land and for the people harmed along the way.
In 2025, we will have car free, radically redesigned cities that foster life instead of steal it. After the pandemic, we’ll realize that connecting with each other in ways that celebrate our diversity is what we want most. That happens in the streets. If needed, we’ll take the streets in protest because the streets are ours and always will be. These streets are not for cars anymore, or the fossil-fueled exploitation of our beautiful neighborhoods that were torn down to build them in a fit of racist destruction. The streets are for people. We know that now.
Repairing our relationships
In 2025, we’ll have unified the climate movement into a broader anti-racism and anti-capitalist movement. Because the climate emergency didn’t start with the invention of fossil fuels, it started with the concept of exploitation of people and the planet. This emergency is hundreds of years old. Repairing that harm across racial, gender, and class lines will give rise to a new era of social and ecological care.
Regenerative care of the land
In 2025, we’ll have accelerated the transition to fully power the country with renewable energy. We will far outpace Biden’s goal of a 100% renewable energy economy by 2035. We will raise our sights to renewable food production, and commit to equally bold plans for transforming our farms and fields so that we might end our extractive relationship with the land.
In 2025, we will expand the concept of shelter so that when people feel unsafe, we will provide comfort. We will provide safety to refugees and immigrants, we will abolish police and revolutionize public safety, we will guarantee housing.
In 2025, we will not only guarantee housing, we will guarantee what we need to survive – and thrive. We will provide health care, jobs, and a new politics of joy.
A new era is being born from these ashes
All this probably feels radical right now. In 2025, it won’t.
Just as abolishing the fossil fuel industry may have felt radical in Obama’s first term, just as a transformative movement of young people emerging as the most powerful political organization in the country may have felt radical on the day Trump was elected, just as hope may feel radical now.
Call it whatever you want: an uprising, a Green New Deal, a revolution.
This is what we are fighting for.
You are needed. You are worthy of contributing to building a better world.
It's OK to be paralyzed with fear right now. If you have extra energy, there's a lot you can do to help. Mutual aid means everyone matters, including you.
Voting is just the first step. We’ve got a whole world to win.