"There‘s No Wealth on a Dead Planet” —poster, Global Climate Strike, Sept. 20
Over four years ago, many informed citizens worldwide awaited the publication of Pope Francis‘s eagerly anticipated encyclical, "Laudato si," which addressed the issue of climate catastrophe for the planet‘s Catholics. Many news outlets discussed its pending release on June 18, 2015, and the impact it would have galvanizing caring people everywhere into action on climate emergency.
On the evening of June 17, 2015, a young white male supremacist named Dylann Roof walked into a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and slaughtered nine African American souls at a Bible study. In that moment, at least for a time, the impetus for U.S. citizens to address the urgent issue of climate chaos ended.
A similar thing is happening today. On Sept. 23, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, addressed the United Nations in New York City. On that same evening, the impeachment inquiry into the corrupt grifter in the White House began.
Over 6 million people around the globe let leaders know during the climate strike that they wanted livable futures for their children, and healthy, clean ecosystems that ensure birds, bees, butterflies, frogs, polar bears, orcas, tigers, elephants, sharks and grizzly bears can coexist with people. We know over a million species are at grave risk of extinction. Our house is on fire. Yet our attention has been diverted, once again, from the actions we urgently need to undertake on climate chaos.
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The thing is, these issues are all of a piece. We do need to impeach a whole passel of Republican crooks. But we also need to elect informed public service commissioners in Montana who aren't in the pockets of our backward, monopolistic public utility, NorthWestern Energy. NorthWestern needs to stop pursuing fracked gas infrastructure. Citizens need to realize that immigration issues and secure borders are directly related to climate change. There are millions of people worldwide who are now refugees because their farms and waterways can no longer grow food. Issues of poverty, racism, health care, income inequality, corruption and human rights are all intricately intertwined with climate chaos.
Locally, the University of Montana needs increased enrollment. John Valentine of Stevensville thinks boosting enrollment will come from ”cutting or getting rid of the School of Journalism, Liberal Arts... Also by laying off all professors who teach any politics in any class or lectures" (Missoulian letter, Sept. 20). A better way is to become the first Montana university to divest entirely from fossil fuels.
Montana State University accepted close to $2 million from the Koch brothers. From greed and power, these billionaire industrialists almost single-handedly created climate denialism, lying incessantly and covering up known ecological destruction. To many citizens, they personify evil. Ryan Cooper ("The terrifying legacy of David Koch," theweek.org, Aug. 23) put it this way: ”Two ultra-rich men with a bottom line to protect were able to spend so much on propaganda, campaign donations, university donations, and so on that they turned the brains in one of two American political parties to rancid tapioca.” These facts surrounding funding sources and conservative political influence might interest high school students considering environmental engineering. Go to unkochmycampus.org and read all about it.
Secondly, UM President Seth Bodnar should encourage our fine law school faculty to help students file an amicus brief supporting the U.S. v. Juliana lawsuit, as children from Oregon sue the United States after being deprived of their rights, as citizens, to ”life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" due to climate inaction.
We have about a decade to save our children‘s livable futures. Do Republicans in Montana even care?