By Jenny Marienau, US Campaigns Director, 350 Action & 350.org
North Carolina is my home. Hurricane Florence is at our doorstep. And I am furious.
If you’re in the path of the storm, stop reading and get yourself and your family to safety. But if you’re outside the impacted region, it’s time to get to work.
A million and a half people here and along the Southeast coast have just been ordered to evacuate their homes because a climate change-fueled superstorm is hurtling their way, and our elected leaders were too deep in the fossil fuel industry’s pockets to do anything to stop it.
Instead of heeding warnings of our state’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, big polluter-backed Republican legislators here in North Carolina have spent the last several years ignoring and even outlawing the use of climate science to prepare us for moments exactly like this one.
In South Carolina, state legislators are still refusing to evacuate a prison squarely in Florence’s path, putting more than 650 incarcerated people’s lives at risk.2 And in both states, runoff from coal ash and hog waste poses a major risk the mostly low-income communities and people of color living nearby.
The ugly message these politicians are sending couldn’t be clearer: corporate polluters’ profits are more important than their most vulnerable constituents’ lives.
And climate injustice doesn’t stop at the doors of the White House: Trump just described his administration’s botched response to Hurricane Maria, which let more than 3,000 people die in Puerto Rico, as an “unqualified success.” Then, the administration deliberately took $10 million of public funding away from FEMA disaster recovery and gave it to ICE — the agency that is unjustly detaining and deporting immigrants, taking thousands of children from their parents at the border, and putting refugees in jail.
Climate deniers & fossil fuel puppets have been in power too long. This is the result. #FlorenceHurricane2018
— 350 Action (@350action) September 14, 2018
Like I said, I’m furious. But here’s what’s giving me hope alongside my anger: There are hundreds of candidates running for office up and down the ballot — from Public Utilities Commissions to the Senate — who are ready to stand up to big polluter billionaires and fight for visionary policies like a Green New Deal that will help us and our planet thrive.
350 Action has endorsed a few dozen of these leaders — folks like Andrew Gillum in Florida, Rashida Tlaib in Michigan, Kevin de León in California, Deb Haaland in New Mexico, and many more candidates who are campaigning to stop building climate-wrecking fossil fuel projects, make big polluters pay for the damage they’ve caused to our planet, and pass a Green New Deal to put millions of people to work in good-paying jobs building the just, renewable energy-powered future we need.
But first, it’s up to all of us to work together to help elect those leaders.
I know talking politics while a storm is surging can feel impolite, but we can’t afford not to call out climate denial when climate disasters hit. Politeness, thoughts and prayers don’t bring justice in the face of disaster. But we’ve got our voices, our votes and our vision, and we’re going to use them all to turn our anger into action.
One more note: communities in Florence’s path will need support preparing for the storm and recovering from its impacts. There’s a list of organizations on the ground that would benefit from your donations here — please give what you can.