Climate Justice

“Land use is the first tool of oppression in the arsenal of capitalism: land grabs have always been its opening shot. While land use has been a tool of oppression, it can also be a tool of our liberation.” Sus Sunhee Volz (Lilac DSA, in It Begins with the Land, first printed in the-trouble.com)

We all have a responsibility to protect our planet Earth and help create a positive environmental future. According to NASA, “Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner. Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.” To make a deep impact on climate change, we must make systemic changes.

A Deeper Look:

The way forward to the regrowth of a healthy environment will involve changes to our political system. Creative solutions to issues that plague our environment are needed including rethinking our industrial economy to reach our goal of saving the resources and environment of our planet. All other social justice issues have an impact upon and are impacted by our environment.

In addition to the damage to our planet in general, a great deal of psychological research over the last several decades concludes that witnessing climate and weather related natural disasters can result in mental health consequences such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. A significant proportion of people affected by these events develop chronic psychological dysfunction. Research also shows that fear and anxiety that comes with our knowledge about the implications of climate change also undermines mental health.

Steps We Can Take:

“By striking from school, we will show the people in charge that this is changing our whole lives; we won’t go about business as usual. This is the community that’s going to change the world.” Mayana Ashley-Carner (Sunrise Movement activist, Philadelphia)

Let’s begin with the Green New Deal. There’s a great summary of it at sunrisemovement.org. The Green New Deal links climate change and socio-economic equality, and is a positive step in its general focus. It’s our responsibility to work toward making these changes. Our youth are leading the way.

Ariel Weinbaum at a Climate Justice March (holding one of the patches she made with the Sunrise logo).

While you’re reading about the Green New Deal, check out the Sunrise Movement at sunrisemovement.org. The Sunrise Movement is building an army of youth using the magnetism of their moral compass to come together and change the world. The leaders of the national Sunrise Movement are working to change our country and the world, “as sure as the sun rises each morning.” We talked to two inspiring youth who are part of the movement; we believe that they will help change the world. When you listen to Mayana and her peer, Ariel, you’ll know what we mean:

An Army of Youth

Youth Climate Activism

Contrary to what many believe, facing these challenges can alleviate mental health consequences. The activists we’ve spoken with feel less anxiety and fear when they not only learn about the issues but start taking steps to help out. We may say this many times about many issues: We can’t do it all, but we can all do something. And every step any of us takes brings us closer to our collective goal of a just world.

Voices:

Sus Volz, a climate activist, and her group at LILAC Philly strive to take us closer to the goal of Climate Justice locally and around the world. Sus wrote an article entitled, It Begins with the Land in which she gives a clear breakdown of the relationship between the land, our carbon footprint, climate change, and Capitalism. If you read Sus’ article, you will see that these issues and others, are inextricably bound together.

We spoke with Sus about the complex subject of climate change and its relationship with capitalism. Listen in: It Begins with the Land

We also had a personal conversation with Sus about the impact of climate change on mental health. Listen here: Climate Change and Mental Health