"They're known as pizzlies or grolars, and they're a fusion of the Arctic white bear and their brown cousins." Love in the Time of Climate Change
"Evolution is moving faster than our politicians." - Cesar Aguirre, of the Central California Environmental Justice Network
"Winning slowly is another way of losing." - Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org
As fast as the departure of the holidays left gaps in my calendar, I have plugged them with Zoom calls on battling the climate emergency. My fascination with climate change began in the late 1990s, when Rob and I went on a Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii. I followed a majestic sea turtle on its underwater peregrinations, and when I resurfaced the balance of my world had tilted. Since then I obtained a degree in Environmental Studies, taught, communicated and organized around climate action. My children's first protest action was a rally for climate. During the last four years, however, I largely plunged my head back into the metaphorical sand out of despair at Trump's reckless abuse of environmental laws.
Biden's budding presidency has already changed the momentum and the sentiment for climate groups in this country and around the world. Each Zoom call feels propelled by the possibilities of gaining traction against the problem of fossil fuel use, of species extinction, of creating a sustainable economy. A sense of urgency dominates the dialogue: we have no time to lose. Goals need to be big, timelines shortened, government actions bold. As Cesar Aguirre said on last night's call, "our voices are loud because our demands are urgent."
Nature herself makes this argument constantly. In fact, evolution appears to be moving faster than our politicians. As Biden battles against Trump's opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, polar bears have started mating with grizzly bears. This has been observed outside of Barrow, Alaska, where eight pizzly, or grolar bears have been killed or live-captured by hunters. The writing is on the wall for the polar bears, and they see it better than we do. Last year was the hottest on record, capping the hottest decade on record.
But there is great hope. President Biden tore up the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, and he has pledged to overhaul the federal fleet of vehicles, making them all electric. His procurement policy claims that this could create between 900,000 and 1,000,000 jobs. Investment companies like BlackRock are demanding that CEO's demonstrate progress toward net zero (carbon emissions) by 2050. Wind and solar are now cheaper than almost all coal, and could replace 86% of the US coal fleet with lower cost electricity by 2025 (The Guardian).
So what do we do to help the climate change politicians, the CEO's, the local commissions and air quality boards? We need to call, write, demonstrate and engage to demand tangible goals, penalties for those who avoid progress, and rapid change on a grand scale. We fight to #BuildBackFossilFree, a way of meeting the Biden team's campaign slogan with the pressing need to leave poisonous and deadly fossil fuels in the ground. We demand rights for the sacrificed communities where black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) live, where water and air are routinely poisoned by pipelines and chemical plants. If we're lucky enough to invest, we invest in sustainably oriented companies or funds. I have listed some organizations and movements below, but there are many more to choose from. Get involved, get inspired, go fast.