Extreme Temperature Diary- Thursday June 4th, 2019/ Main Topic: The Intersection of Racial, Social and Climate Justice

Thursday June 4th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: The Intersection of Racial, Social and Climate Justice

Dear Diary. As I write this post the body of George Floyd is being laid to rest this afternoon in Minneapolis. Last year when I attended Al Gore’s Climate Reality training sessions in Atlanta it didn’t quite dawn on me why the climate movement needed to be tied with social justice until I heard many speakers, including Reverend Bishop Barber. Now I see the necessity, particularly after so many innocent African Americans have been slain by police in the past few months. If we all stand together to press for progressive societal change we can also get necessary infrastructure change for the climate much more easily.

Conservatives and Republicans in this country are now backed into a political corner. Either stand for change with us to “do the right thing” or just get out of the way. Once again Inside Climate News has penned another excellent article in the intersection of all three climate, social justice, and racial justice movements. Today as our main subject I’m sharing about half of their fine article, which I would encourage all to read in its entirely from the link:

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/02062020/george-floyd-racial-justice-police-brutality-environment-climate-activism

As Protests Rage Over George Floyd’s Death, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice

Friends of the Earth tweeted #BlackLivesMatter, and the head of the NRDC promised “to be fully and visibly committed to the fight against systemic racism.”

By ILANA COHEN, EVELYN NIEVES, JUDY FAHYS, MARIANNE LAVELLE, JAMES BRUGGERS

Jun 3, 2020

Protesters demonstrate on June 2, 2020, during a "Black Lives Matter" protest in New York City. Anti-racism protests have put several cities under curfew to suppress rioting, following the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Credit: Angela Weis
Protesters demonstrate on June 2 during a “Black Lives Matter” protest in New York City. Anti-racism protests have put several cities under curfew to suppress rioting, following the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

When New York Communities for Change helped lead a demonstration of 500 on Monday in Brooklyn to protest George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, the grassroots group’s activism spoke to a long-standing link between police violence against African Americans and environmental justice.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization, said she considers showing up to fight police brutality and racial violence integral to her climate change activism. 

Bronx Climate Justice North, another grassroots group, says on its website: “Without a focus on correcting injustice, work on climate change addresses only symptoms, and not root causes.”

These community organizations in New York have been joined in protest by the nation’s most prominent climate change activist groups, including the Sierra Club, 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion.

“NRDC has a responsibility to be fully and visibly committed to the fight against systemic racism and for justice, equity and hope,” Gina McCarthy, its president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. 

“We have marched to the Lincoln Memorial,” Friends of the Earth tweeted Tuesday night, “where we are joining thousands of peaceful protesters sitting and standing face-to-face with law enforcement. #BlackLivesMatter”

While some established, and predominantly white, climate and environmental organizations have struggled with diversity in their ranks and faced criticism for being disconnected from communities of color, there are clear signs that they are becoming increasingly focused on racial and environmental justice. 

The Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopal priest who is executive director of GreenFaith, a global religious-based climate action network based in Highland Park, New Jersey posted on his blog: “For too long, the environmental movement has not been concerned enough about the destruction that climate change wreaks on Black and Brown communities around the world. For too long, we haven’t been concerned enough about Black and Brown people who can’t breathe because they are carrying the weight of climate change and White supremacy.” 

Patrick Houston, climate and inequality campaigns organizer for New York Communities for Change, said he believes the broader climate movement is “becoming much more open to listening and understanding the struggles of the black community” by connecting “overt racism and violence” with “overlooked racism” stemming from proximity to power plants and other fossil fuel infrastructure.

This new show of solidarity, he said, reflects “a work in progress that must continue.”

Yeampierre, who is also co-chair of the national Climate Justice Alliance, shares Houston’s hope and skepticism. Given what she considers a historically “extractive” use of the climate justice narrative by “big green” organizations, she said those groups must take direction from Black Lives Matter organizers in protesting Floyd’s killing. 

Alexandria Villaseñor, the 15-year-old climate activist who is co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and founder of Earth Uprising, emphatically agreed. “I think that true solidarity is giving Black Lives Matter organizers platforms, donations and putting our bodies out there on the streets with them,” she said. “We know that there is no climate justice without racial justice. The exploitation of black people is the greatest extractive system of production of all time and in order to heal the planet, we must have black and indigenous liberation.” 

While both environmental racism and police brutality have long histories in the United States and in New York City—Floyd’s death comes six years after the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, in a chokehold by a white police officer in 2014—the city’s leading youth-led environmental groups, including Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement and Fridays of the Future, did not exist before 2017.

Villaseñor said she has been pleased over the past week to see organizers with both Extinction Rebellion and Sunrise on the ground in solidarity with racial justice advocates. 

Jonathan Kirsch, social media coordinator for the Sunrise Movement’s NYC hub, said that the organization has “acknowledged that we are not the authority right now to be commenting on what is being said by the black community.”

He added: “We are here to support our black and brown friends and family in this moment, so that their voices are the ones that should be heard—as they always should be heard.” 

A similar focus on racial and environmental justice by climate change and environmental activists was evident around the nation Tuesday as protests again took to the streets in dozens of cities eight days after Floyd’s death. The officer who pinned the handcuffed man to the ground with a knee to his neck, Derek Chauvin, has been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and charged with third-degree murder.

Mark Reynolds, executive director of Citizens Climate Lobby, said the group—which has volunteers in every Congressional district pushing for bipartisan carbon pricing legislation—is making plans to offer additional training to its volunteers on racism, privilege, bias and diversity in the environmental movement. There also will be a seminar in racial justice included in the group’s upcoming annual conference, which will be held online in  June.

“It’s not enough simply to list diversity as one of our values,” Reynolds said in a blog post addressed to the group’s members who are black and people of color. “The best way we can proclaim that Black lives matter to CCL, and that we care deeply about your wellbeing and your safety and your happiness, is for us to take concrete action.” 

He added, “Like climate change, there is no simple fix for racism—but we will not shy away from doing our part in this vital work.” .

Nathaniel Stinnett, founder and executive director of the Boston-based Environmental Voter Project, said that environmentalists have a special duty to speak out on racial injustice.

In the battle to protect the planet, he said, “every fight we enter is also a choice about whom to protect—will we protect the privileged or the oppressed, the heard or the unheard, those who feel the brunt of environmental impacts or those who don’t?”

Stinnett said his group, which works to identify environmental voters and get them to the polls, will redouble its efforts to fight for equality in ballot access as part of its work. “Fighting structural racism is—and must be—integral to the environmental movement’s mission,” he said.

In Louisville, where thousands of protesters have also been chanting the name of Breonna Taylor, an African American killed by police March 13 while they were serving a nighttime “no-knock” search warrant, environmental activists have been among those expressing outrage. 

“Different faith leaders were speaking out about the violence that is perpetrated against black people in Louisville and across our country, and how that is against our values,” said the Rev. Dawn Cooley, who is executive director of Louisville-based Kentucky Interfaith Power & Light, a coalition of faith communities that advocates for action on climate change.

Cooley said it is easy to find a connection between climate justice “and the system of racism in our country and in our world. And the same people who are struggling for their basic human rights in America and the larger world are the same people being most impacted by climate change.”

Racial and ethnic minorities, she noted, are bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and death from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

‘I Worry About My Kids and Their Kids’

Watching the events of recent days unfold have been very painful for Arnita Gadson, a veteran environmental justice advocate who has played a pivotal role helping to keep a large chemical industry in Louisville accountable through a local task force, and also serves as Kentucky’s Environmental Climate Justice Chair for the NAACP.

She is contributing to a local climate adaptation plan, and that work has continued through the recent strife, Gadson said, adding, “but I’ve been scared.

“I am a black woman living in a white world,” she said. “If I go out, I might get shot and I may get killed. I worry about my kids and their kids.”

……………………………………………

Yes, I believe that there are evil forces in this world that are very resistant to change. If we can all work together for that change instead of separately we should have a much better chance for success. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to be galvanized to have the strength to implement that good change.

Here is more climate and weather news from Thursday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(As usual, the most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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