Originally, for this op-ed, I intended to shame students obsessed with making astronomical salaries in their career and how they were ignorant of an upcoming climate catastrophe. I felt such an idiotic perspective should be challenged.
However, after listening to podcasts like “Citizen Radio” and reading about Fight for 15, I began to reconsider what I was doing and looked at my personal rules I follow in journalism. One of them is get out of the way for the story.
I began to think to myself, “Am I placing myself in a major issue to feel great about myself?” Is it right I report on the divestment movement to empower myself? What’s the point of even writing anymore if I am a narcissist like the students on campus obsessed with high-paying salaries at major firms?
I am proud of the work I did with Fernando Echeverri in our story about divestment. I support CUNY Divest and stand with them in their efforts. Yet, I feel it is important to focus on the issue of climate change than my own beliefs.
As a note to the reader, it is important to describe what is happening to our planet.
Take California, for instance: a place where climate change is already making an impact. The state is suffering from a stubborn drought to the point where Jay Famiglietti, a NASA scientist, warned that water reserves would last until next year in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an agency of the United Nations, warned last year that global warming, if unchecked, would cause massive and unprecedented changes to the entire planet.
“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the authors said.
There are an incessant amount of headlines ranging from the extinction of 26 percent of species on Earth to the potential of a mega-drought affecting the southwest. I cannot help but remember a piece written by the excellent journalist Dahr Jamail on “Truth-Out,” where shares the most appropriate response to global warming – depression.
“This work has emotional consequences. I’ve struggled with depression, anger and fear. I’ve watched myself shift through some of the five stages of grief proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I’ve grieved for the planet and all the species who live here, and continue to do so as I work today,” Jamail said.
Professor Corety Bradshaw, the director of ecological modeling at the University of Adelaide, is my favorite for reasons the staff of “The Knight News” are aware of. Bradshaw cites his frustration and anger with the “greedy, lying bastards” not doing anything about climate change.
“Mark my words, you plutocrats, denialists, fossil-fuel hacks and science charlatans – your time will come when you will be backed against the wall by the full wrath of billions who have suffered from your greed and stupidity, and I’ll be first in line to put you there,” Bradshaw said.
I do not want to feel so cynical and pessimistic that I become bitter, but it is not easy dealing with the consequences of global warming, especially considering inaction by major governments too lazy to deal with large problems.
Part of me, perhaps the rational one, believes it is far too late to do anything as individual actions truly do nothing for a communal problem. Yet I also feel, if one follows the potential of the “Fight for 15” and “Black Lives Matter” movements, that the environmental movement will move out of irrelevancy to a bigger space.
Therefore, I think divestment is a valuable movement to support and am glad I was able to cover this with my colleague.
Yet, there needs to be more done going forward to the point where we truly need to reconsider our society.
I loathe op-eds as I feel my voice is nothing to contribute in a debate where the answers are already there. Who cares about talk, there needs to be action done. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words. But I think this is different as I am tired of exploitation. I am tired of injustice. I am tired of oppression. I am tired of capitalism.
There needs to be a new movement going forward to truly bring the situation under our control or else we may be facing the reality of a Sixth Extinction already underway.
I, and certainly no other person in my generation, wants that to happen, but it is happening. The question is, will we do anything about it?
But I do not want to end on that somber note. I want to end with a quote by Malcolm X inspiring me in the darkest of times.
“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change,” Malcolm said.
Brandon Jordan is a junior studying political science and economics. He is the co-Editor-in-Chief of The Knight News and a journalist with Firedoglake. He can be reached at brandon[at]theknightnews.com.