Why (we as) climate activists stand with refugees


“A culture that places so little value on human beings, that it allows them to be thrown to the waves, is also going to allow poor people’s countries to disappear beneath the waves because that is a threat to today’s profits.”
— Naomi Klein

Hundreds of thousands of people are making their way to Europe these weeks, fleeing from violence, often being met by violence again upon crossing our borders; sometimes – increasingly – met with love and compassion (as well as the occasional bottle of water, toy, or blanket).

You have probably heard the story: climate change, unchecked, drives extreme weather events and resource scarcity, exacerbating conflict and socio-economic dynamics. Case in point: Syria. While the causes of the Syrian conflict are primarily political, some recent research suggests that a prolonged drought just before the 2011 uprising may have played a role in the ongoing civil war (although this should be seen as only one contributing factor). Read more

My August and September Hiking the Pipe

EmmalynDear Family, Friends, and Co-Conspirators of Various Types,

For those unaware, I’m hiking the pipe this August and September.

Meaning that, along with various groups of other people along the way, I’m walking the route of the proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline from Malin OR near Klamath Falls to just north of North Bend OR on the coast. We’re following the route of the pipeline as close as possible: hiking on public land or on private land with permission or hiking nearby roads. The proposed pipeline is 272 miles and the hike is 37 days, about 5 weeks, from Eastern Oregon to the Pacific Ocean, across 2 mountain ranges and multiple rivers. We will document, witness, and record all that is threatened, meet the people and places at risk, and have lots of opportunities to interact and collaborate. There are multiple events along the way and I’d love it if you showed up.

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Notes From An Activist In Training

On Thursday while photographing and standing in 6 inches of water on the overcrowded floating dock, I asked a young man next to me if I could borrow his shoulder to support my telephoto lens amidst the up and down swell of the water.  It mostly worked until my lens started really moving up and down well beyond my timing of the swells—and I realized he was crying.

He was an early 20 something moderately tatted guy with an inscrutable political stance, and I thought I was taking a chance by even asking for his help, but necessity trumped wariness and I was rewarded far beyond my request.  Not only was I moved by his tears but I found myself welling up too.  Hardly anything can deter me from getting the shot I pre-visualize, but in that seminal moment I stopped shooting and watched inside myself as my entire newbie activist history tape-looped in my brain.  It was a transformational moment for me, one where I began to jettison my training wheels, and I wanted to share some thoughts for both their cathartic and perhaps inspirational value. 

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Between The World & Me & Portland

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Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is a book-length letter to his black son about race in America. After writing for 150 pages, this is how he chose to end his book, with the most lyrical, forceful link between climate and racial justice I have ever read:

“the people who could author the mechanized death of our ghettos, the mass rape of private prisons, then engineer their own forgetting, must inevitably plunder much more. This is not a belief in prophecy but in the seductiveness of cheap gasoline. Once the Dream’s parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmitting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder not just the bodies of humans but the body of the Earth itself…Something more awful than all our African ancestors is rising with the seas. The two phenomena are known to each other. It was the cotton that passed through our chained hands that inaugurated this age. It is the flight from us that sent them sprawling into the subdivided woods. And the method of transport through these new subdivisions, across the sprawl, is the automobile, the noose around the neck of the earth, and ultimately, the Dreamers themselves.”

Between The World And Me

Why did he end this book on race with talk about fossil fuels? Read more

What’s Next: Reflections from a young organizer

whats-next1I know you’ve heard a lot about the People’s Climate March already, but a collection of marchers’ interviews has been compiled and are providing me a source of hope!

After spending one month organizing the Portland People’s Climate March, I hopped on a plane to NYC and landed in the temporary epicenter of global climate activism. For three weeks, New York was filled with meetings, panels, rallies, marches and other climate events.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to show they care, but they also came for the excitement; the PCM was the place to be that weekend. The march was designed to appeal to a broad audience–and it did. All over NYC, I heard people talk about the march joyously, as though it were an upcoming festival. Its open atmosphere was effective at drawing 400,000 people to march in NYC, and many hundreds of thousands more at marches around the world.

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My View: Reed Trustees Must Divest from Fossil Fuels

Reed College’s Board of Trustees recently published its official rejection of Fossil Free Reed’s petition to divest the college endowment of fossil fuels (Reed College won’t divest fossil fuel holdings, web story, July 17).

Divestment, the act of selling financial holdings in a company or group of companies, historically has been used as a powerful tool — such as in the case of ending South African apartheid — to affect major systemic change.

We, the students and alumni that form the group Fossil Free Reed, are disappointed that the trustees’ formal response seems to ignore the months of discussion that have taken place, fails to meaningfully respond to many of the issues raised in our original letter demanding divestment (published in early February; see reedquest.org) and does not engage with our counterpoints to trustee concerns raised in two meetings between Fossil Free Reed and the trustees. Read more