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Editor’s Letter – 1/15/19

Last month, nearly 150 protestors were arrested outside the D.C. offices of Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) This was the country’s first introduction to the Sunrise Movement, a broad coalition of young people calling for a Green New Deal in response to the looming planetary crisis. The activists were animated in part by the latest grim UN climate report predicting “a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”

The same day, newly-minted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) launched a resolution to form a congressional committee on a Green New Deal. The leftist firebrand from the Bronx, whose longshot campaign was inspired by water protectors at Standing Rock, transformed the demands of a coalition into a serious policy proposal overnight. The next morning, “Green New Deal” was trending on Twitter and national news networks.

Ideas can spread like wildfire—the subject of this issue’s feature story by Fraser Kastner. He tagged along with Oklahoma Forestry Service fire management chief Andy James during a training session with students from the OSU forestry program in Stillwater, and talked to the chief of the Seiling Fire Department in Dewey County about the massive fires that ravaged western Oklahoma last spring and what can be done to manage the next round.

There will be a next round. And as global temperatures continue to rise, it will get worse. We can expect more drought, more fires, more flooding, and more conflict. Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that the crisis is here. There is no ambiguity. No room for opinion. We’re at the point of no return, and we have to do something about it right now.

As of the time of this writing, the government has been shut down for 25 days as the president flirts with the idea of declaring a “national emergency” to build a $5.7-billion dollar wall on the U.S. southern border. He delivered a prime-time televised address, belching fake outrage over a fake crisis in order to score points in his demented quest to shake up the worst in ourselves for his own political gain. The bogus distraction is as depressing as it is predictable.

Of course, people like the president, corporate lawmakers, and fossil fuel industry CEOs fighting meaningful action on climate change don’t actually care what happens to the planet. They won’t be here, or else they’ll be too rich to feel the heat from the flames. For the rest of us, we need a real response to a real emergency. We need serious action from serious leaders. We need a Green New Deal. 

Learn more at sunrisemovement.org/gnd.

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