September 20th, College of the Atlantic students, members of Earth in Brackets, and MDI High School students part of MDIHS Eco-team organised Bar Harbor's second ever Climate Strike. We joined over 7.5 million people striking in 185 different countries. Our message is both simple and extremely complex. It is time for all of us to recognize the state of emergency our planet is in. There is no debate among scientist that Climate Change - caused by anthropogenic carbon emissions - presents an imminent threat to humanity as we know it, and we must act upon it.
An increase in global average temperatures means the massive destruction of ecosystems, human infrastructure, disruption to the production of food, and the scarcity of basic resources like water. Global inequality, added to this panorama of the current situation of human also means that some are going to suffer while others get to sit and watch. Although projections look into the future, Climate Change is a reality that is already massively affecting many people, mostly in developing countries. This year alone, Mozambique was hit by two hurricanes that destroyed most of the east coast of the country; wildfires in Siberia created a cloud of smoke as large as the entire European continent, and as we were striking in Bar Harbor, the Amazon rainforest was experiencing one of the largest wildfires in the history of humanity.
By saying we must act, we are asking the political and social elites of the world to recognize the emergency and implement their plans to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions - to zero; and to create substantial adaptation plans for the communities that are most vulnerable to the disasters Climate Change brings about.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognizes with confidence that we have already warmed our planet an average of 1°C from preindustrial times. This increase in the global temperature is leading to severe changes in global ecosystems. Firstly, it contributes to the melting of ice caps, permafrost at the higher latitudes, the retreat of glaciers; this contributes to sea level rise dangerous to coastal communities and coastal ecosystems. Secondly, the increase of temperatures increases the amount and frequency of extreme weather events like storms, hurricanes, heat waves, extreme temperatures, to mention some. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has brought governments of the world to agree on limiting the warming of the planet to 2°C through the Paris Agreement. However, the IPCC released a report with modeled scenarios of what would happen if the earth would warm an average of 1.5°C the results are the same increased extreme weather events, sea level rise, permafrost melting, mass animal migrations, mass bleaching of corals, to mention some. The worst part of the IPCC projections is that we are far from reaching a 1.5°C limit - If we continue business as usual, we are looking at a warming between 3°C and 4°C, an impossible environment for organised human life.
The 1.5°C projection is already a matter of survival for many. Small island states like the Maldives and Kiribati which would be underwater due to sea level rise. Communities in African countries like Mozambique and Ethiopia would see themselves affected by severe droughts and other extreme weather events. And the list goes on.
Prompting our governments to act is essential, but so is transitioning our personal lives, and life in community. This is why we strike. We need to create a political environment conducive to climate solutions in record time. Our carbon emissions must peak and then be significantly reduced within the next 10 years, but that will not be enough. We need to create a global economic system that takes the focus out of growth, and turns to sustainability. In most places, we need to rethink our connection with our land.
What does Climate Change mean to Mount Desert Island?
The Gulf of Maine is warming 99% faster than the rest of the oceans. This poses a serious risk for the coastal communities of Maine. On the one hand, coastal communities will be facing sea level rise, increased storm surges, and increased rate of coastal erosion threaten the integrity of their infrastructure. On the other hand, the warming of the ocean also means the migration of living creatures such as lobsters, mussels and clams that are essential to the economy of the region. Recognizing these threats is essential for the creation of action plans to mitigate our emissions, but also to begin preparing for the losses and damages we are going to suffer.
So, what are we asking for?
Earth in Brackets, in collaboration with MDI High School student put up the following list of demands:
1. Declare a Climate Emergency
2. Recognize Historic Responsibility
3. Hold our Governments Accountable
4. Address Social Injustice Intensified by Climate Change
5. Create Inclusive Spaces for All in Decision Making
6. Implement Real Solution
7. Elevate the Voices and Work of Those Most Affected by Climate Change
We presented these demands to the MDI community during the strike. In addition we used the platform of the strike to raise awareness about a very important issue (which I will be talking about more soon). The Amazon Fires. We had Mariana Orias Lopez, a senior student at College of the Atlantic from Bolivia, briefing us about what is going on at home. We can't ask for justice without elevating the voice of those suffering most. We also had representative Brian Hubbell (District #135), and a spokesperson for Jared Golden speak to us about Maine legislature for climate action.
We hope our demands are heard and we hope for the declaration of Climate Emergency to occur promptly. We need to act in a timely manner before it's too late. Saving our planet is the responsibility of all of us.