In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf South, creating a huge population of American climate refugees. Ten years later, the seas are still rising but so are we. Click here to support our Thunderclap and use your online voice to call for action on climate resistance, resiliency and a just rebuilding.
Ten years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans. It was a super storm powered by warming oceans, extreme weather and climate change. Nearly half of the city was forced to evacuate, but not everyone was impacted equally. Like most climate disasters, low-wealth communities and communities of color were hit the hardest -- and many of them simply never made it home. New Orleans had a population of 455,000 before the storm, two-thirds of whom were black; by 2010 there were 118,000 fewer black residents in the city.1
Katrina was more than a climate-fueled super storm. It was one of America's most dramatic examples of the climate chaos that is to come if we don't act quickly to stop global warming. The aftermath of Katrina calls us to act on climate, by supporting divestment, rallying in our towns and demanding world leaders come together this December in Paris and enact a big, binding climate deal with two simple goals: Leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong, so we stop fueling climate chaos, and immediately begin a just transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 with nobody left behind.
This week thousands of people, including President Obama, are heading to New Orleans to commemorate a climate game changer. They'll stand in the Lower 9th ward in a symbolic tent city built for those who evacuated and never came back. They'll teach and learn at one of the city's historic black colleges about how to rebuild from the storm, resist climate change and renew our movement. They'll rally and march in the streets to demand action on climate and a just rebuilding for New Orleans, the Gulf South region and all climate refugees.2
President Obama will be in New Orleans on Thursday.3 Environmental Action staff are on the ground to help plan and run key events on Friday and Saturday. Buses of people displaced people from New Orleans are already on their way.4 Will you stand with us by joining a thunderclap? It's a powerful online action where we all schedule a message to be posted at the same time to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. When all the actions are blasted at once, it acts like a thunderclap to draw the attention of reporters, decision makers and climate activists like you.
Everyone is talking about Katrina and New Orleans this week. There have been major stories in the New York Times, several new documentaries are being released, and in addition to the President's visit, Congress' main committee on the environment is planning a hearing in New Orleans. Though, typical for the fossil-fuel junkies who run Congress, they're more interested in 'The Impacts of Federal Policies on Energy Production' than they are on the impacts of climate chaos on the planet and people.5
That's why we can't count on mainstream media or politicians to tell the story of Katrina and the moral call to act on climate change. This story needs to be told by us, in our own voices. And it needs to be told in context. We're supporting Gulf South Rising's Katrina 10 events as one step on a path to the United Nation’s Paris climate talks in December -- and one step towards a safe and just climate for everyone.
Later this fall, we're planning actions around Pope Francis' visit the U.S. in September; A fast and a conference to connect the dots between fracking, methane and climate chaos; A week of divestment actions to show the power of the clean economy and our collective pocketbooks, as well as mobilizations across the U.S. and around the world in October and November.6
It all starts this week in New Orleans, and wherever you live. You can stand with the refugees, current residents and stand up for action by signing on to the thunderclap right now.
Drew and the Katrina 10 crew at Environmental Action
1 - Gary Rivlin, Why New Orleans’s Black Residents Are Still Underwater After Katrina, New York Times Magazine, AUG. 18, 2015
2 - Gulf South Rising, Actions and events listing
3 - Daniel White, Obama to Visit New Orleans on Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, TIME, Aug. 19, 2015
4 - Environmental Action, Climate Justice Express, Aug 4, 2015
5 - ERIC WOLFF with Alex Guillén and Elana Schor, Obama hits the road to generate support for carbon cutting, Politico Morning Energy, AUG. 25, 2015
6 - People's Climate Calendar