How Could I Not Strike for the Climate?

by Portia Zwicker

September 9, 2019

I'm a mother fighting for my daughters future. When I first heard about the Climate Strike on September 20, there was no question that I would attend.

I’m a mother fighting for my daughters future. When I first heard about the Climate Strike on September 20, there was no question that I would attend.

How could I not?

ALTAMIRA, PARÁ, BRAZIL: Aerial image of burning in Altamira, state of Pará. ALTAMIRA, PARÁ, BRASIL: Imagem aérea de queimadas na cidade de Altamira, Estado do Pará. (Foto: Victor Moriyama / Greenpeace)

The fires in the Amazon rainforest are raging right now. Most were started by cattle ranchers and farmers who need room for grazing and crops. This is a crisis because the Amazon rainforest is the Earth’s largest carbon sink and is already taking up a third less carbon than it was a decade ago. That’s an amount of one billion tons of carbon dioxide, or twice the amount of the UK’s annual emissions.

So, how could I not?

An image of Hurricane Dorian made by Astronaut Christina Koch from the International Space Station during a flyover on September 2, 2019.  The space station orbits more than 200 miles above the earth.

Hurricanes are getting stronger and are producing more rain as the seas get warmer. Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas, leaving the Grand Bahama airport under six feet of water, and 70% of the Bahamas are underwater. Hurricane Maria was the third deadliest hurricane ever, taking the lives of almost 5,000 people.

So, how could I not?

An activist holds a banner reading “Save Mumbai Stop Climate Change”. One of the highest tides in a hundred years batters the Mumbai coast. The city is going to be hard hit by climate change and sea level rise according to a recent World Bank report.

Sea levels are rising as ice melts. Rising sea levels cause destructive flooding, displacement, and migration. Imagine thousands, maybe millions of people needing to resettle due to coastlines changing from rising sea levels. Recent search suggests that the collapse of the world’s ice sheet could uproot 200 million people.

So, how could I not?

A sign on a fence line near Westhoff warning about the danger of a high pressure gas pipeline at the site. Gas is burned off at the flare in the background at an Eagle Ford shale fracking installation in DeWitt County.

This president and his administration are, among other things, rolling back environmental regulations, dismantling the EPA, declaring falsely that wind turbines cause cancer, and denying that climate change is even an issue.

So, how could I not?

I have a three-year-old daughter. She will only be 14 when we reach our 2030 deadline of making the necessary changes to curb climate change. Fourteen. Still a child.

She will only be 34 when we reach the 2050 goal many people have named for the US to reach carbon neutrality. That’s younger than I am now. What will her life be like? Will she want to have kids of her own? Will it be safe to? It might not be

So, how could I not?

Fans gather to welcome Greta Thunberg as she arrives in New York after her trip across the Atlantic. Her journey, on the zero emissions sailboat Malizia II started on August 14th in Plymouth UK. The boat is captained by Boris Herrmann, a professional race skipper, and Pierre Casiraghi, founder of the Malizia team. The Malizia II allowed her to make a zero-emissions journey because of solar panels and underwater turbines that generate electricity. Greta will participate in a number of events in the US and Canada, including speaking to state officials, participating at the UN climate summit, and striking with youth in NYC at the Global Youth Climate Strike on September 20th. She will set sail again in October to arrive to Santiago, Chile, for COP 25.

I keep reading about young climate activists. Teens in high school, college students, etc. It makes sense that they are involved: they are fighting for their futures. But we are talking about the future of humanity, and older people, those who can, need to get more involved. Perhaps they, you, have young children or grandchildren, kids who will see the effects long after we are gone.

I am taking four hours of paid time off to attend the strike. This is a privilege, I realize. Not everyone can do that. But if you can, I encourage you to do so.

Thinking of all the points I’ve made above, how can I not be there, fighting for my daughter’s future?

How can you not be there?

By Portia Zwicker

Portia Zwicker is a technical writer living near Albany, NY. In her free time she plays scrabble and fights for a livable planet and for her three-your-old daughter’s future.

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