One tactic of the Sunrise Movement is to bring attention to the role of climate change when extreme weather events occur. These past few weeks have seen prolonged bitter cold, with many low temperature records broken over a wide area of the Midwest. There are predictions that low temperature records could be broken in twenty cities today.
We’ve seen multiple severe storms crossing the country, bringing ice, snow, intense rainfall and flooding. And yesterday powerful tornados caused massive destruction and at least 23 deaths in one Alabama county. Hundreds of these people have become climate refugees.
According to Rita Smith of the county’s emergency management agency:
“We are heartbroken for the people who have lost loved ones today. It is sad. You prepare and you prepare and you prepare, you guide citizens on what to do and sometimes even when we do everything right, mother nature has a mind of its own. We’re very upset today about this,” Smith said.
Tornadoes kill at least 23 in one Alabama county, CNN, 3/4/2019
“When daylight hits tomorrow we’re going to see more, we’re going to see the actual effects of this and it will not be an immediate normal. And when people say ‘you go back to normal’ it’s never normal — it’s a new normal for people who live through things like this. So we’re here to support those people.”
I visited Marshalltown, Iowa, after a tornado last year caused catastrophic damage. My family used to live in Marshalltown, and my niece and her family still leave near there. Jasmine was at work in Marshalltown when the tornado hit.
Seeing the damage in person makes these tragedies feel more real.
As the Des Moines Register says, “‘Normal’s gone’: Can this Iowa town turn a tornado’s wreckage into a new future?”
With much of the brush and debris hauled away, community leaders have pivoted to asking broader questions about the future of Marshalltown: What will be lost permanently, what can be replaced — and maybe, what good things might rise from the rubble?“‘Normal’s gone’: Can this Iowa town turn a tornado’s wreckage into a new future?” Des Moines Register, September 6, 2018.
As today’s youth are demanding, we have to stop treating climate change as an “issue”, and recognize that it is an emergency crisis now, one that will produce increasingly frequent and violent storms such as these. What the youth want is a Green New Deal. This March 15th there will be global #SchoolStrikes, with hundreds of thousands of school children going into the streets instead of school, demanding action on climate change. I believe we adults should encourage and support these actions.
I know plans are being made by the Sunrise Movement to create disaster relief teams, which will go to areas devastated by extreme weather, both to help the victims, and provide yet another way to call attention to climate change and the need for a Green New Deal. I believe these #SchoolStrikes will force politicians to begin to pay attention to, and actually begin to do something about climate change. And the only plan that begins to address this at the scale necessary is a Green New Deal.
The following video by Brian Erickson explains the different ways people think about the Green New Deal: