The battle for climate justice seems to be a losing one, but every once in a while the good guys get a win. This is the story of what happened in a small Bay Area city.
In 1989, 1999, and 2012 there were explosions and fires at an oil refinery run by Chevron in Richmond, California. These events have caused over 15,000 citizens to need care for burns and the effects of inhaling noxious fumes. For this community the fire in 2012 seemed to be the last straw. In 2013 they banded together and sued the Goliath-like company.
As you can imagine, Chevron did not take kindly to this lawsuit. They began to take measures against the local government in Richmond. Chevron poured 3.1 million dollars into the local elections in 2014, even producing attack ads, hoping to get more “friendly” politicians in place. Although that is a lot of money, this community would not be intimidated. They showed up to vote, and were triumphant. All of the Chevron delegates lost, but it didn’t end there. These events spurred the community to start a program called Climate Justice, including turning empty lots into gardens and organizing events sponsored by local green companies to raise environmental awareness.
Bio: Frank Bozzo is the Social Media Coordinator for This Planet, a series of short video stories that draw on the best new content and surprising facts about climate, energy and innovation.
Everyone is getting bombarded with voting messages lately. I just started getting lots of unsolicited emails from the campaign of the one of the presidential hopefuls this week. Facebook is full of political talk. The energy surrounding this election is ramping up but in my humble opinion we need to remember that every day is voting day. We don’t have to wait to wait to be heard. No, we may not get to decide on POTUS but we do get to cast votes for many other equally important issues. More important issues actually.
Every day we vote with our shopping dollars. Are we supporting unsustainable, toxic products and companies or are we supporting conscious, safe, and sustainable companies and products? When we go down the aisle of the big box store and pick up a bottle of cleaning fluid or a box of cereal we are casting a vote in support of that product and that company…are you voting for the people and things you want to be?
Sadly, if most people did some background checks on the products they are currently buying they would be sickened by who and what their money is supporting. The good news for all of of us though is that you can change this instantly by changing what you buy and who you buy it from. We all are all consumers on some level so we can all be activist consumers if we choose to be and why on earth would you choose NOT to be once you become aware of the power in your purse?
For 2015 I have partnered with a company that makes is easy to become to the activist consumer you want to be. ClimateStore’s mission is to is to make it
for people to reduce their carbon footprint by
- helping people learn about climate change
- promoting new ideas for sustainable living
- finding great products that reduce fossil fuel use
- sharing success stories
What I personally found appealing about ClimateStore is that we can shop for products that reduce our carbon footprint and support a company that values the same things. So many large companies with dirty practices and heavy carbon footprints jump on the green bandwagon to get their piece of the pie. Well, I would rather my money go towards good products AND ethical, responsible companies. I love that this particular store isn’t just about selling. They have a large educational component as well. They are seeking to create a community among their customers of people who are well versed in climate science and the environmental impacts thereof. It is a mission and a company I can get behind.
It also helps that the products are great. They aren’t greenwashed products that leave you scratching your head in confusement. They have a great selection of smart home tools such as programmable thermostats and solar thermometers. They have compost bins and rain barrels too. The gardener in me just loves that.
When the talk around you gets political it helps to remember that you have power and a vote right this very second. What kind of world will you vote for and what kind of ethics will you support?
Disclaimer: I am working in partnership with ClimateStore as a blog ambassador and I am compensated for my work . The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% my own.
Way to go Los Angeles!! As of yesterday they have become the largest US city to ban plastic shopping bags, joining other eco conscious cities like Seattle and San Francisco. They have taken a stand and declared that consumer convenience can not be placed before the environment and plastic bags are a serious environmental problem.
According to Business Week:
The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-1 to require stores that make more than $2 million a year or occupy retail space measuring more than 10,000 square feet to phase out plastic bags by Jan. 1; smaller stores will have until July 1, 2014. Paper bags will be available for 10 cents, with proceeds going to the stores.
I am excited because LA is a trend setting city and this could give other cities the motivation they need to enact their own bag bans, which I fully support. Chicago and New York City may have something in the works already.
Freebie plastic bags are given away willy nilly all over this country and it has to stop. As society we have already demonstrated we aren’t mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with accepting them. If we were, they wouldn’t litter our countryside and our oceans, threatening ecosystems and wildlife.
Do you support bags bans?? How do you feel about this decision in Los Angeles?
When the news started pouring in that President Obama was making a major announcement about climate change today I was unsure what to think at first. My feelings about his performance this term have been rather lukewarm. He hasn’t done anything to stand up to Monsanto and their stranglehold on this country and he hasn’t done nearly enough lately on green issues such as climate change and clean air. I was especially hoping for more action on this after the Forward on Climate rally in DC this past February, which I attended with my 12 year old son. He was largely mum though after what was the biggest citizen rally to date.
I always hold out hope for a Bulworth moment since he is on his second and last term. Now is the time to stand up to corporate interests and take one for the planet. What has he got to lose? Only the chance to make history and be “the one” who got the wheels spinning and started to turn our current global crisis around I say.
The President’s speech today was not quite on par with my wildest hopes and wishes but I am pleased by what we heard today. I applaud the fact that he is giving the issue the attention it deserves and that he seems to be accepting of the fact that we have some tough decisions to make. The road to finding solutions will not be easy but neither are the ramifications of our failure to do anything. In 2012, extreme weather disasters cost Americans more than $100 billion. If now is not the time to act on climate then when will it be?
In the speech today the President touched on serious flaws in our current legislation. Right now there are no federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution that energy producers can pump into our air. Mercury, arsenic, and radioactive particles are spewing into the air we breathe and no one is doing enough to keep it in check. “It’s not right, its not safe and it needs to stop”, Obama started out by saying. He then declared that the EPA is directed to end the limitless dumping from energy plants by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing facilities, which account for around 40% of total U.S. emissions.
I love that he put the kibosh on the naysayer talk right away, confirming that we are sure to hear that this will kill jobs, crush the economy, and end free enterprise. We hear it it every time anyone wants to enact tougher legislation on pollution and increase environmental protection. In 1970 our government acted on smog with a clean air act and we heard back then how the economy would be crushed. The only thing crushed was pollution. The same thing happened when legislation was put in place to combat acid rain. The naysayers are out of gas.
I also liked how Mr. Obama basically challenged the patriotism of the naysayers out there by hinting that they have no faith in the innovation of businesses and their ability to be leaders and to find solutions when limits and standards are put into place. They bet against American industry. Why? There need not be a contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth. Our American businesses and leaders can take this challenge and run with it. Anyone who hems and haws about the economy swirling the toilet is basically saying we are too dumb to meet this challenge and come out on top. We should ALL be insulted that conservative leaders and media are implying such a thing.
GM and Nike have issued climate change declarations. Walmart has made it a goal to cut emissions by 20%. It is one of the greatest opportunities of 21st century to be a leader on this issue and the companies stepping up should be applauded.
The President briefly touched on the subject of oil and drilling saying that we are not going to stop producing fossil fuels anytime soon but that more drilling is not a solution we can accept. We are already producing more oil now than we have in the past 15 years. We need to scrutinize our use of oil and projects such as Keystone Pipeline to see if the benefits outweighs the costs to our environment and natural gas will be a transition fuel. This part of the discussion was lackluster for me. He targets dirty coal power plants with this new plan (yay!) but dances around the Keystone issue (boo!) when a rejection is what I was hoping for. Also, natural gas gets touted as a “clean energy” solution. What the frack?
Along the lines of REAL clean energy though he shared that we have doubled the amount of solar and wind power used during his term and this plan will set us up to double it again by 2020. He also called for cooperation to end tax breaks for oil companies, end the funding of new coal plants overseas, and invest in the clean energy companies instead. They are the businesses of the future! He also touched on the fact that developing nations have more to lose to climate change than the US so he plans to work more intimately with other countries to combat these issues together. He intends for the US to be the leader on this issue.
The last part of the speech was intended to mobilize us as a country I think and light a fire under our behinds…asking us to help spread the message about climate change far and wide in our communities. As he stated, “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society.”
President Obama’s Climate Action Plan isn’t perfect and it wasn’t the Bulworth moment I wanted. It’s not quite aggressive enough in my opinion. Yet all things considered the plan is a monumental step forward for us and it deserves the support of the nation and the world. We do not have to choose between the health of our children and the health of our economy. We cannot fear the future, we have to seize it. Now. Thank you Mr. Obama for opening up the discussion today and laying the groundwork for what will hopefully be important change.
Will you send a message to your Congressional representative telling them to support President Obama’s plan to combat climate change?
Because you really can change the world with the power of your purse!