By Jessica Lee
While global warming will affect the planet for generations to come, the responsibility for this crisis lies primarily with Western industrial culture. Not only does the United States contribute 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases while having only 5 percent of the population, but Western Europeans and European-Americans have forced the rest of the world to serve their needs through centuries of imperial conquest of land, resources and markets.
After coordinating this special issue over the past three months, I feel more strongly that we are going to have to take a deep look into our own history and our hearts for the root causes of our present situation — the long record of betraying human rights and environmental health for the sake of progress and civilization. We cannot have both capitalism and a habitable planet. We cannot continue to live in separation from the natural world. We must learn, through compassion, communication and self-reflection, how to get along with each other. Working to slow climate change is the logical next step for both global justice and community-based movements. The centuries old fight for a just and egalitarian society must continue.
To have clean air, safe drinking water, livable communities, individual freedoms, forests, ecological diversity, organic food, real mental/ physical/spiritual healthcare, we must do what people have always done in the face of tyranny — take our anger and fight hand-in-hand with non-violent tactics. It’s time not only for those of us who can to put our bodies on the line, but it is also the political moment to plant the seeds of a world we do want.
In his recent unveiling of PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Bloomberg said New Yorkers were in the best position to lead the world in combating climate change. Ironically, he’s right.
Living in a compact, multicultural hub of eight million offers us unique opportunities to develop more sustainable ways of living. That we live in the financial capital of the world provides us with the extraordinary opportunity to put pressure on the institutions that fund the corporations, the power plants, the wars and the politicians.
The future depends on us at this climactic moment — it’s time to take a stand for our planet.