By Tony Ferrara and Rob Shetterly
For many years Americans have allowed the health of our air, water and land to be compromised for the supposed good of jobs and corporate profit. Even when Rachel Carson demonstrated in the 1960s that agricultural pesticides endangered the existence of many bird species, people did not get fully engaged until it was clear that people, not just birds, were endangered. The climate crisis has now brought us to an even more extreme divide. Climate deniers are wagering, as unbelievable as it sounds, that Americans prefer jobs and corporate profit to survival. They would have us play Russian roulette with the lives of our children, grandchildren and all other plant and animal species. They would have us believe that the future on this planet, like a stock option, is a short-term consideration.
It’s time we convened as a community – all of us! – to examine the science of climate change and how we, as that community, can adapt, can mitigate, can care for all of us and all other species. And that’s what we’re doing. On July 20 at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill we are holding a Climate Convergence Conference to bring all sectors of this community together to consider where we are and where we want to go. Convergence means people of different ages. It means bankers, business people, teachers and artists. It means scientists, fisherpeople, students, builders, religious leaders, and social workers. The best antidote for anxiety for the future is to examine the facts and begin concrete action.
Together, we can change the nature of the public discourse regarding climate change, empower each other, and strategize our actions. We may be surprised, as well as heartened, to find that our deepest private concerns about the health and ecological trajectory of our planet are widely shared by others. There is no way forward without convergence. The conference will begin with the words of young people describing how this crisis feels to them followed by a host of workshops detailing the scientific consensus as well as paths to mitigation and recovery. There will be music all through the conference and numerous examples of successful local climate initiatives.
Besides these initiatives, the most important short-term outcome is to ensure that the climate crisis is center stage in the 2020 elections. The most important long-term initiative is to demand that our local schools prepare our youth to respond to the dangers of a climate-changed future. Action is required from all generations. As has been said, “We are the first generation to foresee the catastrophic consequences of climate change and the last generation with an opportunity to forestall it.”
Go to www.reversingfalls.org to see the schedule and register for the conference.
The doors open at GSA at 8 a.m. and the conference concludes at 4:30 p.m. Please come. There is no person or species unaffected by this crisis. There is no person whose energy is not required for a healthy outcome.
Tony Ferrara is an associate professor and coordinator of the Peace Studies Seminar at CUNY (City University of New York). He is a member of the program team for Reversing Falls Sanctuary and leader of the organization’s Ecological Initiative. Brooksville artist and activist Robert Shetterly is founder of the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait and education project.