April 29th is the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, and already it is apparent that climate change action is not on his agenda. No other president in history has taken such an aggressive stance on environmental deregulation and climate change denial. Since taking office, Trump has or is preparing to roll back Obama-era regulations to mitigate and prevent climate change, proposed slashing the EPA and National Park Service budgets to crippling lows, authorized the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines, allowed for the dumping of industrial waste into our rivers and streams, canceled certain Obama era fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, and the list goes on.
Since his inauguration, there has been a mass uprising of Americans committed to resisting Trump’s destructive agenda. On his 100th day in office, citizens will gather together at the People’s Climate March on April 29th at well over a hundred cities nationwide. When it comes to climate change action and environmental justice in Chicago, the march is a chance to have your voice heard and an opportunity to stand in solidarity with with those who believe Trump and his anti-environmental policies must be resisted.
With so many vitally important issues at risk under Trump, why does climate change rank among the most pertinent? Climate change affects all of us. It is not an issue consigned to any one group of people, regardless of race, class, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Every living organism, human or otherwise, will in some way be impacted by climate change. Many of its initial effects are already apparent throughout the world as demonstrated by an increase in extreme weather patterns. The shifts in the planet’s climate threaten to disrupt long-established agricultural systems, jeopardize vital water supplies, or result in natural disasters that displace and destroy the lives of many.
Here in the Midwest, the climate will shift as well and have dramatic consequences on our environment. According to the EPA data on climate impact in the Midwest, “Precipitation in the Midwest is expected to become more intense, leading to increased flood damage, strained drainage systems, and reduced drinking water availability…Warming waters [in the great lakes] may spur the growth of blue-green and toxic algae that reduce water quality. Rising temperatures also diminish winter ice cover, which may leave shores more vulnerable to waves, increase erosion and flooding, and damage fish habitat and property.” Additionally, “In the long-term, climate impacts are likely to have increasingly detrimental effects that increase variability in crop and agricultural production.”
While this may seem daunting, climate change is not something simply happening to us, it’s something we’re causing. Human activity plays a significant role in shaping the Earth’s climate. According to a report by NASA on climate change, the release of carbon dioxide through fossil fuel burning and deforestation has increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, methane gas released from decomposed waste in our landfills and from our livestock on factory farms has also significantly contributed to the problem.
Undoubtedly, climate change as an issue is related to societal practices but the problem is also connected to our individual lifestyles. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: how are we contributing to the crisis? And how can we help remedy the problem?
Climate change poses a unique challenge to humanity. Despite our differences, we must come together and fight for the survival of our species and the overall habitability of the planet. It will test and fundamentally change how we view and organize society, forcing us to reckon with our own wasteful and destructive practices. If not met, unchecked climate change will have devastating consequences for the planet and civilization.
So, when we march for climate change, what does that mean? It says we’re responding to the warning signs, honoring the scientific community and working to protect our planet. We’re committing to transforming our communities through supporting city-wide divestment from fossil fuels, donating to or volunteering for groups working to achieve environmental justice, and organizing local actions to clean up the streets, support green spaces, and raise awareness about climate change. Marching is also a commitment to changing our own behaviors by limiting food and water consumption, driving less, advocating for the switch to and using renewable forms of energy, growing our own food, etc.
Pursuing the challenge of climate change alone is an impossible feat. The problem is too large and the consequences too bleak; it is fundamentally the burden of all citizens and must be faced collectively. Only when millions of people come together can real change occur. The People’s Climate March is only a single step in tackling this challenge. By participating, you are sending a message loud and clear that our current way of life needs to change, and ignoring its reality is no longer an option. We hope you will join us!