On September 20, three days before the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, and continuing on September 27, millions of youth and adults from across the world will strike to demand that transformative action to address the growing climate crisis and environmental degradation.
Much of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. from the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas, with the U.S. military producing about 80% of the federal government’s share of these emissions.
These greenhouse gas emissions, and the fossil fuel billionaires responsible for them, are pushing our climate to the brink of collapse and hurting our communities in real time. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security. This is especially true for those of us who are poor, people of color, and otherwise marginalized.
All forms of inequality get magnified by climate change. From housing to healthcare, everything gets worse when a wildfire or hurricane is at your doorstep, or when oil and gas billionaires come to town to build a pipeline or a refinery in your backyard. While we suffer, our elected officials keep pandering to the billionaires responsible for this crisis.
In Detroit, a growing portion of our water bills ($30 – $40 per month or more) covers the treatment of rain water, especially the surge that accompanies a heavy rainfall. According to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, this charge will grow because of climate change as storms dump increasing amounts of rain in a short period of time. It’s the poorest people who bear the brunt of this when we get our water service terminated because we can’t afford to pay to treat Mother Nature’s rain. The storms are also causing basement flooding on a regular basis now.
The poorest neighborhoods in Detroit, particularly in southwest Detroit, experience very high levels of industrial pollution from facilities such as the Marathon oil refinery, resulting in the highest asthma rates in the state, and other adverse health effects.
Even the City of Detroit’s approach to blighted neighborhoods makes climate change worse. Instead of carefully deconstructing the abandoned homes and recycling the lumber, windows, doors, and bricks, Mayor Duggan opts to dump these materials into a landfill were the wood will eventually decay and produce greenhouse gases. Duggan chooses to do this despite a successful program under Mayor Bing that deconstructed homes using the labor of appropriately trained persons returning from prison.