Power to the People

Why I’m Marching in the People’s Climate March

On April 29, thousands will participate in a People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., and around the country to demand urgent action on the global climate crisis. Here in Santa Barbara, environmental justice groups, labor unions, youth organizations, members of the faith community, and small business owners will hold our own march for climate justice and a clean energy economy. The march is timelier than ever, given proposals before county supervisors to drill more than 750 new oil wells.

As a 26-year-old, the challenge of reversing human-caused climate change has fallen to my generation. My friends and I feel a fierce urgency and responsibility to future generations. It brings us into the streets for mobilizations like the People’s Climate March, but also teaches us to organize our communities to demand good jobs based on clean energy. I march for people-powered resistance and democracy.

Scientists warn that we need to stop the planet from warming an additional two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. But the short-sighted Trump administration will ramp up fossil fuel development for immediate gain. The president has appointed oil and gas cronies to his cabinet whose financial interests collide with those of the planet. I march to let President Trump know that the people are a force of resistance to these deadly policies.

Here in California, we like to think of ourselves as leading on green policies. However, fossil fuel corporations spent more than $36 million in 2015-2016 lobbying elected officials in Sacramento to keep us dependent on dirty fossil fuels and thwart a transition to renewable energy. I march to demand that elected officials in California stand up to the fossil fuel lobby and refuse to take dirty oil money.

Right here in Santa Barbara County, outside oil interests are asking county supervisors to ad 750 new wells that would use dangerous techniques similar to fracking. These methods are more energy intensive than traditional drilling and produce about four times the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The oil operators would drill through the Santa Maria Valley Ground Water Basin and risk contaminating local drinking water. The fossil fuel industry wants us to believe that the future job growth and the county budget depends on oil. They don’t. Currently, oil revenue makes up less than one percent of the county budget, and nationally clean energy job growth surpasses the fossil fuel industry. I march to call on our city and county elected officials to stop new oil development in our county.

The planet cannot survive if we continue to extract fossil fuels at current levels. We are already experiencing the global effects of climate change: loss of ice mass in the arctic, intensified snow storms on the East Coast and rising sea levels worldwide. In California, we often struggle to maintain enough water for people, crops, industry, and the environment.

We know 100 percent renewable energy is possible. Cities like San Diego, Aspen, and San Francisco have already committed to such goals. But we have to come to together in order to win. I march to ask local officials to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Join the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29, noon-2 p.m. at Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium (100 Loma Alta Dr.). Write to your county supervisors, call your city councilmember, and demand a 100 percent renewable future. I march to call on others to join the fight for a clean energy future.

Alena Simon is the Santa Barbara County Organizer for Food & Water Watch.


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