About a decade ago, near the end of the Bush administration, middle-school-aged me attended a green energy/environmentalist convention in Minnesota. I was filled with all the righteous outrage and hyperactive passion of an energized preteen who read a lot of fantasy books (saving the world, good vs evil, all of that), and I wanted to do just that: save the world. I visited the stands on various “green” initiatives (recycled materials, efficient light bulbs and household heating, renewable energy) and bought a set of activist buttons which I wore regularly until 2008 had come and gone. They had mantras like “Save the Future” with a picture of a melting Earth or “Organize” with a group of small fish chasing a larger one. My activism was in full stride. I told everyone I knew about the perils of global warming and melting ice caps, about solar and wind energy and the dangers of fossil fuels, and fervently defended the Endangered Species Act.
I was able to become a little more complacent, as can be imagined. I still fought against initiatives that I knew would be harmful to the environment, but most of my effort was spent on advocacy and spreading awareness of issues to others. It was a good eight years.
We have entered the Anthropocene. The changes that humankind will wreak across the planet will be cemented in geology for millennia to come. The rate of extinction–that is, the complete annihilation from existence–of species is possibly higher than it has been since the end of the dinosaurs. Humans have been disastrous, but I still held out hope.
We have been making slow progress. Renewable energy has been slowly spreading, with new global initiatives in funding and investment. There have been instances of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) continuing to block the efforts of traffickers and poachers (for example, in ivory). There has been social outrage over trophy hunting and oil pipelines. In the United States, very recently, two marine reserves were created and we got onboard the Paris Agreement. For someone who, as a child, was innocently outraged at our lack of support for the Kyoto Protocol, this felt like poetic justice and resolution: the first step in a road to staving off the worst effects of climate change.
But our hard-won progress may be slowed. It may be halted. It may even be reversed.
There is a lot of fear and trepidation over the shift in American government (understandably). I am an advocate for many of the affected social movements, but I will not address them here. Instead, I will continue to address the slow erosion of our biosphere. It’s where my expertise lies and it is where, in my opinion, the most irreversible damage is taking place.
I will address the slow death of Planet Earth. We have lost over 50% of our wildlife in the last fifty years. We are reduced. We are lesser. Earth is decaying beneath our feet, and we are concerned about money, as always.
In the aftermath of this election, those of us who are concerned with a more existential crisis than turbulent borders or health care premiums are worried, to say the least. The track record on science and environmental issues of the now dominant Republican party is not conducive to optimism.
Once again, the will of those in power is against us. If we want to save our world before irreversible harm is done, we must act.
Recall the Green Movement of the early 2000s. Dredge up that passion and spirit. You will need it again.
Extinction is here. Climate disaster (which will, *shockingly*, affect the economy!) is creeping up on us. We’ve just experienced the five hottest years on record: it is not a trend our civilization knows how to stand against.
We must keep fighting for a future of diversity and life. We must fight against isolation, both within humanity and of humanity.
If you were there with me, ten years ago, trying to advocate for clean energy and habitat protection: take up arms again. And if you’re newer to activism, keep fighting.
Keep working. Speak up. Don’t let those in control get away with any atrocity.
“We must not go quietly into this impoverished future.”
It will be harder now, but we must keep our momentum and keep our voices raised.