Trending

22 Ways to Become a Climate Activist Without Even Putting on Pants

How to save the earth while in quarantine.

Are you angry about the current state of the world and how COVID-19 is being handled by elected officials? Just wait until you hear about how they're handling the Earth.

This month, the Environmental Protection Agency basically late night FaceTimed all of the major corporations and oil companies in the United States and said, "Hey guys, I know this whole quarantine thing is rea–lly harshing your unlimited profit vibe, so here's a free pass to just like, pollute as much as you want–as a treat." Because the country is so wrapped up in navigating this corona chaos, the Trump administration has begun quietly undoing decades of protections against wide range environmental degradation without consequences. This is SUPER bad news, because not only does pollution worsen public health substantially, it also accelerates climate change, which is the chronic illness underlying coronavirus's acute symptoms.

Climate change is complicated. It's tied into pretty much every system of oppression you can imagine, and its sneaky nature proves hard to communicate because it affects communities in ways that aren't usually overt. There is no global warming mascot, no fire breathing antagonist that clomps up and down your neighborhood screaming, "THE END IS NIGH!" Rather, it shows up disguised as increased respiratory and water-born illnesses, reduced crop yield, and displaced refugees crossing borders— things that belong to other departments in the state house who are much more worried about the here and now than the then and there. Sometimes climate change declares itself like a rude dinner guest: barraging the world with floods, hurricanes, and fires. But as both the US president and the Prime Minister of Australia have attested, that's, like, totally unrelated—except it couldn't be more related.

So, how do we fight this beast with 1,000 heads? Where do we even start? And how the f*ck are we supposed to get anything done when there's a motherf**king GLOBAL PANDEMIC actively ruining all of our lives?

Here is some good news. One: We're all stuck at home, which gives us a lot of time to mess around on TikTok, but it also gives us a lot of time to learn something new. Two: it's Earth Month, which means that every environmental organization is running at 100mph trying to pump out as much radicalized educational content as possible. This is a very specific intersection in history in which you now have both the time and resources to go from a generally freaked out layperson to a radicalized and prepared activist. Knowledge is power, and if you know where to look, the Internet is just teeming with knowledge.

So, as you heat up that fourth box of Mac & Cheese, here are some ways you can learn to dismantle oppressive structures and tear down the establishment without even brushing your teeth.

READ

Congratulations! You opened a book today after staring at it for 2 weeks. Bonus points if it's written by a person with the first name Naomi.

1. This Changes Everything - Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein has been researching the environment since way before it was "cool" and "sexy" to care about the Earth. This book examines the way that major corporations just literally vomit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without nearly enough measurement or regulation.

2. Merchants of Doubt - Naomi Oreskes

This book shows how the same guys that affected public opinion on cigarettes and health way back when are the same guys who are spewing misinformation about the climate crisis. This book will show you that climate change needs a public relations specialist just as much as any of the Kardashians.

3. On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal - Naomi Klein

As our world starts to look like the meme of that dog saying, "This is fine," Naomi Klein delineates how the Green New Deal has the opportunity not only to save our planet, but the livelihoods of the people that inhabit it.


WATCH

If you're going to be laying in bed in a half-dissociative state, you may as well be learning something. Here are some documentaries that simultaneously ruined my life and radicalized me to make change.

1. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Ya boi, Al Gore, is BACK to remind us that change is possible and that it starts with us.

2. Chasing Coral

Chasing Coral | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix www.youtube.com

I watched this movie while I was working at an aquarium and cried my way through the rest of my internship. This movie features childhood dreams, party boats, and a school bus-turned-education-mobile.

3. Before the Flood

Before the Flood Official Trailer #1 (2016) Leonardo DiCaprio Documentary Movie HD www.youtube.com

This is the movie that made me give up red meat and frat boys. Mostly red meat. Thanks Leo.

4. A Message From the Future

A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez www.youtube.com

This is a short video that explains what the future looks like with a Green New Deal. It may be due to the beautiful stop-motion painting that makes up the film, but if you ask me, the future looks BANGIN'.

5. Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich - Trailer www.youtube.com

THIS IS THE PINNACLE OF ECOFEMINIST CINEMA. JULIA ROBERTS IS A JUSTICE-SEEKING, LEOPARD PRINT-WEARING QUEEN.


JOIN

Joining a climate org helps makes the fight for the planet feel WAY less lonely and WAY more possible. Here's a list of climate orgs with local chapters across the U.S./World.

1.Extinction Rebellion

"Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse."

2. Sunrise Movement

"WE ARE SUNRISE. We're building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process."

3. Climate Reality Project

"Today, as Climate Reality, we're a diverse group of passionate individuals who've come together to solve the greatest challenge of our time. We are activists, cultural leaders, organizers, scientists, and storytellers committed to building a sustainable future together."

4. Zero Hour

"Zero Hour is a youth-led movement creating entry points, training, and resources for new young activists and organizers (and adults who support our vision) wanting to take concrete action around climate change."

5. Citizens' Climate Lobby

"CCL empowers everyday people to work together on climate change solutions. Our supporters are organized in more than 400 local chapters across the United States. Together we're building support in Congress for a national bipartisan solution to climate change."

6. Fridays For Future

"#FridaysForFuture is a movement that began in August 2018, after 15 years old Greta Thunberg sat in front of the Swedish parliament every schoolday for three weeks, to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis."

7. Sierra Club

"The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone's right to a healthy world."


GET #LEARNT

Sure, you could attend a zoom training on how to increase email capture. Or, you could attend a zoom training on how to DESTROY CAPITALISM. Your choice.

1. Getting to the Roots—Zero Hour

From their website: "Through this campaign, Zero Hour will educate communities around the country and abroad about the systems of oppression that Zero Hour names as root causes of climate change in our platform, including Capitalism, Racism, Sexism, Colonialism, and how these systems intersect with the climate movement to form climate justice."

2. Sunrise School—Sunrise MVMT

From their website: "Right now, as this pandemic sweeps our country, thousands of us are out of school and work, stuck at home. But instead of getting trapped, we're seizing this moment to become the leaders we need. Join us at Sunrise School: an online community where we're building the skills and power we need to confront the crises we currently face. At Sunrise School, you can:

    • Build connections with other young people who are freaked out about climate change, the coronavirus, and the state of our world.
    • Learn about the crises gripping our society and how to confront them.
    • Take action online and with small groups of others in your area while social distancing."

    3. #AloneTogether - Extinction Rebellion

    From their website: "As part of the response to coronavirus, Extinction Rebellion UK is offering AloneTogether, a Regenerative Rebellion built around:

    • Personal and community wellbeing
    • Mutual aid, community resilience, care and outreach
    • Actions and mobilisation
    • Tell the truth
    • Community democracy

    We are still connected. We are #AloneTogether."



    DO

    Now that you've gleaned all of the materials to make you angry, it's time to act. Instead of giving yourself bangs or trying to put on a T-Shirt while doing a handstand, here are some actions you can do to impact the fate of the world.

    1. Divest

    In this era of "economic uncertainty," the last thing you want to think about is probably your investments, but one of the most powerful ways to bring about a just transition to renewable energy is to divest from fossil fuels. So if you partake in the capitalist crapshoot that is the stock market, it is possible to take any investments you may have had in oil/coal/natural gas and transition them to sustainable industries. An awesome resource for that is right here.

    2. Grow Food

    During WWII, victory gardens—which were planted in every available plot of land across the U.S.—produced around 40% of the fresh vegetables for the country. Citizens started their own grass-roots movement in the most literal sense of the word, and small-scale farming brought communities together in one of the most uncertain times in modern US history. Flash forward to today, when going to the grocery store feels like stumbling into the gates of Mordor, growing your own food ensures a cheap (read: free) healthy meal and a more intimate relationship to the natural processes that produce it. You could also start composting too, if you really wanted to get crazy. Here's a link to help you grow food from scraps.

    3. Contact Elected Officials

    Think about how many emails you get from Macy's or Oriental Trading and how annoying they are. Now think about how annoying 50,000 emails about your elected duty to protect the literal earth we live on would be. You can find your local elected officials here.

    4. Virtual Strike

    WE'RE TAKING TO THE STREETS! AND BY THE STREETS I MEAN OUR LAPTOPS! This year is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day in which youth (and non-youth!) across the world were planning on flooding public places, disrupting the peace, and demanding that business NOT continue as usual. Now that business is most certainly not continuing as usual, the strikes are taking place virtually–with speakers, trainings and performances from all over the world. The demands remain the same, the delivery is just a little more socially distant. More info here.

    Obviously, there are 85,000 other ways to get involved, fight the power, and save the planet. But, hopefully this millennial list will be just enough to open Pandora's sustainably sourced box and send you tumbling into the beautiful, chaotic, brave world of climate justice.

    Welcome to the age of digital activism–don't forget to unmute your mic.

    The Destruction of Climate Change: The Tree that Inspired Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax" Has Fallen

    In 1971, the year "The Lorax" was published, scientists were just beginning to sound the alarm about climate change.

    If you've somehow managed to successfully compartmentalize and ignore the fact that the earth is literally dying, perhaps this will jolt you out of your slumber: The tree that is believed to have inspired Dr. Seuss's iconic conservation-themed short story, "The Lorax," has fallen.

    Image via ABC13

    The tree in question was a Monterey Cypress, which grew without incident for 80 to 100 years in a La Jolla, California park until it keeled over suddenly on June 16. Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, could see the tree from the La Jolla apartment where he lived from 1948 until his death in 1991. It is believed that the cypress, with its curved trunk and abundant leaves, inspired the Truffala Trees that the Lorax in the story dedicates himself to defending—until a greedy factory owner cuts them all down, poisons the rivers, and fills the sky with smog. At the end of the story, the Lorax hangs his head and floats off into a tiny gap in the clouds, lamenting the death of his beloved forest and the creatures that called it home.

    The Lorax- trailer www.youtube.com

    In 1971, the year "The Lorax" was published, scientists were just beginning to sound the alarm about climate change. That year, a coalition of leading scientists reported significant risks from global climate change caused by human activity; by the end of the decade, scientific consensus identified global warming as the largest risk of the 21st century. Still, largely due to misleading reports from companies like Exxon, right-wing denialist think tanks, multi-million dollar denial campaigns, and bribes given to politicians by oil barons and investors such as the Koch Brothers, climate change was delegitimized, relegated to the back burner of public and political consciousness.

    Flash forward to 2019, and the consequences of that corruption and ignorance are coming back to bite all of us. Wildfires, hurricanes, tsunamis, and droughts—each of which has catalyzed waves of refugees and deepened wounds of already existent economic disparity—are just a few of the visible consequences of climate change; and the worst is yet to come. Roughly 80,000 acres of forest disappear each day, with another 80,000 experiencing significant degradation. Plusm 1 million species are teetering on the brink of extinction.

    If the loss of forests and biodiversity is not enough to chill you to the bone, the effects on humanity have been severe and will become unimaginably extreme if we continue at our current pace of unchecked destruction. Climate change threatens coastal cities with flooding, displaces millions, exacerbates health problems like infectious diseases, triggers asthma attacks, and destroys infrastructure and agriculture. It can cause mental illness and it disadvantages the most vulnerable, threatening communities and nations who lack the resources needed to bounce back from ecological disasters.

    And even if you really don't give a shit about poor people, you're still not safe—for climate change will pose significant risks to financial markets, with food costs, insurance markets, and the mortgage industry all at risk. (For proof, just look at the millions of dollars in liability costs and subsequent bankruptcy faced by Pacific Gas and Electric after the 2018 California wildfires).

    So in the shadow of all this horrifying information, it doesn't seem so far-fetched that the tree that inspired one of the greatest tales of environmental destruction has fallen. Sure, maybe there was something wrong with its roots, or maybe the excess of poison or smoke from the fires or the gas leaks or the plastic particles in the salt-choked rivers did it in. Or maybe the tree just gave up, realizing that the earth was no longer a place for growing things. Its death feels like the real-world embodiment of the Lorax floating away into the murky skies, looking sadly down on the scorched earth that used to hold thousands of trees.

    Image via techwithkids.com

    Of course, the Seussian tale doesn't end with the Lorax's departure. It begins when the kid in the story gets the Once-ler to tell him what happened to the Lorax, and it ends when the Once-ler drops him a tiny Truffala tree seed. "UNLESS someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not," says the old storyteller, imploring the kid (and by proxy, all readers) to try and do something, even if it starts with one seed.

    In a world where Greta Thunberg—a sixteen-year-old playing hooky—is literally the most powerful voice in ecological activism, Dr. Seuss's message doesn't seem too starry-eyed. Small, improbable leaps of faith might be insignificant in themselves, but they can start waves of action that could be our best chance at launching the worldwide action needed to build a viable (and potentially more equitable) society.

    image via weheartit