From Berlin to Sydney, Mumbai to NYC, over 4 million people came out to strike against climate change on Friday. Demonstrators took to the streets in the primarily youth-led movement to protest against fossil fuels and demand net zero emissions by 2050. I was one of them as I participated in my first march ever. “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now!” is still ringing in my ears. Hopefully politicians and world leaders hear it, too, and take note before the UN climate summit this coming Monday.
Amidst hundreds of thousands of protestors that were predominately kids (New York City gave students the day to strike without having to take an absence) my friends and I marched from Foley Square to Battery Park in lower Manhattan where music and talks by activists like movement leader Greta Thunberg ensued. I couldn’t help getting choked up as I watched high school students and children as young as four shout and strike for justice for their futures. In lieu of the climate crisis, I’ve been increasingly stressed and overwhelmed by the gravity of the problems we face. It felt good to take definitive action because lately I kept thinking, “Was anyone doing anything?”
Fortunately I went to a talk this week held in preparation for the Climate Strike by a group called Women Power Our Planet at the Assemblage Nomad in Manhattan. The panel was comprised of Cameron Russell, supermodel and Founder of Model Activist, Sarah Shanley Hope, Executive Director of The Solutions Project, Clara Vondrich, Global Director of Divest Invest, Wahleah Johns, Executive Director of Native Renewables, and host Mira Megs Lathrop, Co-founder of Women Power Our Planet. They divested the facts but also highlighted current actions taken to end our reliance on fossil fuels. Most importantly, they laid out very real and definitive actions individuals can take to bring our planet to a state of wholeness once again.
Check Your Investments
The underlying message of the talk was Break Up With Your Bank. The audience was encouraged to find out where your money was invested, from funds to your regular bank account, and ask if those investments aligned with your personal views. Making the switch from a bank like Chase that invests your money in dirty projects like oil drilling to a Credit Union or Amalgamated Bank, which is 100% fossil fuel free, starves those investors of cash and turns renewable energy projects into more economically viable opportunities. Thanks to organizations like Divest Invest, over 8 trillion dollars has been divested out of the fossil fuel industry and these stocks have become the worst performing sector in the S&P 500 in recent years.
See Where Your Power Comes From
“Over 80% of the people in my community don’t have power,” Wahleah Johns told the panel audience. Yet in their backyard on the Navajo land of Black Mesa Top in Arizona stands oil rigs that pump out power to cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas. By checking to see where your power comes from you can choose to support the burning of fossil fuels- or not. Consider Green Mountain Energy. My apartment runs on this grid and is linked to my Con Edison bill. Green Mountain uses wind and solar as sources for their 100% clean electricity. It costs a few dollars extra each month, but as more of us sign up, it will only become more affordable.
Eat ‘Way Less’ Less Meat
It takes 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil and the energy equivalent of gasoline to produce one pound of feedlot beef. #MeatlessMondays and #PrayforAmazonia are not enough. Changing your eating habits takes consideration and initiative, but giving up meat, especially beef, is a crucial step in eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels. We don’t need meat to survive or thrive.
Don’t Worry About Being Perfect
When the task at hand seems insurmountable, it’s easy to do nothing under the weight of pressure. “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being conscious,” Cameron Russell said to the audience. By understanding that YOU hold power and can influence others, climate justice is possible. It’s crucial to give yourself grace when you make mistakes but don’t be afraid to examine your life and see where you can make improvements. No act is too small.
Together We Can Make A Difference
The millions of strikers around the globe are proof that we care about the environment- at lot. We are too strong to be smothered and too loud to be ignored. No government or organization has to change unless we DEMAND it and demand it, we shall.