There’s a Crack in Everything

Just a few days after the US elections it’s already clear that difficult times lie ahead. The multiple reports of hate and bigotry coming in from across this nation have made the prospect of the next four years under a Donald Trump presidency seem nightmarish to many. The future of our lands and waters too, is in grave peril. There’s no escaping the fact that under a climate change denying president and a right-wing GOP, many of the environmental protections we have fought so hard for over decades might get rolled back. At immediate risk are Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the Paris climate accord, and the powers of the EPA. Trump has also prioritized removing restrictions against coal, oil, and natural gas extraction and reviving “vital energy infrastructure projects” like the Keystone XL pipeline.

True, there’s no saying whether Trump will follow through with all his bombastic campaign promises, but based on the fossil fuel execs and climate deniers he has tapped for key positions on his transition team, the coming years are sure to bring increased federal leasing of lands for fossil fuel exploration, cuts to climate and clean energy research programs, and fewer protections for critical lands and ecosystems.

Internationally, it’s game over for US leadership in the international climate policy arena, which spells disaster for efforts to cap global emissions.

No doubt, the work to protect our lands and waters, our communities, and our nonhuman fellow beings has just gotten 10 times tougher.

But, as always, the cracks in our body politic are already letting the light through.

In November, voters in several states sided with the environment and public good. Conservative states such as Iowa and Florida embraced wind and solar energy. Voters in Massachusetts approved an animal welfare measure outlawing the extreme confinement of livestock. California and New York continue to work on their own emissions-reduction plans, and the transition to a low-carbon economy is moving apace, led by cities, towns, local municipalities, and businesses that have voted for a healthy environment.

Meanwhile, grassroots justice movements are gathering strength like never before. The ongoing struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has brought together a broad coalition of indigenous communities, environmentalists, and social activists, is a shining example of this. Not only is the movement raising key questions about how we relate to the natural world that sustains us, but as with this election, it’s also refocusing our attention on what political activist Angela Davis calls “the intersectionality of struggles” for environmental, social, and political justice. (See “Nations Rising”)

We are at an extraordinary moment in time. Big battles lie ahead that will test the foundations of this democracy and either shake or reestablish our faith in humanity. For all of us working to build a humane, just, and sustainable world, this is the moment to come together and stand strong.

Let’s get working.

Maureen Nandini Mitra signature graphic

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