We wanted to tell you why we're in New Orleans this week with the Gulf South Rising action, and how you can help. So I made this short video to explain. Will you check it out and then support our actions?
New Orleans matters because of Katrina's impact, because of the rebuilding and because of the lessons we can - or maybe should learn from it.
First let’s talk about the storm:
Hurricane Katrina was a super storm powered by warming oceans, extreme weather and climate change. When the storm hit, 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. Today there are at leasts 80,000 fewer black residents in the city.
And that’s why we have to talk about the rebuilding.
A lot of New Orleans has been rebuilt in the 10 years after the storm, and that’s a good thing. But hundreds of thousands of people — most of them black, poor or from less desirable neighborhoods on the east side of the city — are still displaced, living like refugees inside America.
And even more alarming, a lot of leaders still don’t want to act on climate change and protect our communities at all. Earlier this week Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sent a letter to Obama asking him not to "stray into climate change politics" because it’s “a divisive issue” when he visited New Orleans this week. Likewise, in a few weeks, a congressional committee on energy and the environment will visit New Orleans not to talk about how to rebuild a more climate resilient city - but to talk about how to protect the oil and fracking industries from any law or regulation on climate change.
Which is why we have to talk about lessons learned.
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.
Examples like Katrina call 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.
You’ve probably heard about that big meeting, so let me explain our movement’s two goals:
- Leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong to avert another Katrina and;
- Immediately begin a just transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, with nobody left behind.
The 10th anniversary of Katrina shows us the dangers of ignoring the first goal. The failure of so many politicians to learn the cost of climate inaction despite the ongoing struggle for justice in New Orleans show us the peril of the second.
But this week is also an opportunity. When President Obama was in New Orleans yesterday, he did talk about climate impacts -- albeit just a little. I’m here on the campus of Dillard College with Anthony and dozens of young activists talking about how to rebuild, resist, and renew our movement. Best of all buses of people displaced people from New Orleans are already here at our tent city in the lower 9th ward.
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. And we need your help to tell that story, wherever you live.
You can stand with us right now by making a donation to support events like today’s Climate Justice Convergence. Your donations give us the ongoing support we need today in New Orleans and all the way through the Paris Climate talks. If you can, please consider chipping in $5, $10 or $25 a month for the next few months to make even more actions like this possible.
From all of us at Environmental Action, thanks.
Drew and the Climate Justice Team at Environmental Action