By Isabell Rivera
Earth Day is celebrating its 52nd Anniversary on April 22. And every year, Mother Earth faces challenges that put human life and the environment at risk. Global warming still plays a significant role in this, and as it appears many countries are not doing nearly enough to combat climate change as they should.
This year’s theme is “Invest in Our Planet,” and it makes sense, in looking at how weather conditions have worsened globally. According to the newest report on climate change by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), unavoidable climate challenges will be faced globally, within the next two decades where global warming increases by 1.5°C (2.7°F) as explained below.
“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesong Lee, chair of the IPCC. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”
The continuation of climate change and global warming will mostly affect underrepresented groups, as environmental racism is already in fullforce (eg. smog-producing freeways were planned to go through and surround low income communities).
The Greenlining Institute in Oakland, a non profit organization, has been fighting environmental racism and climate change for years and encourages the community to get on board and take this matter seriously.
“To combat climate change equitably, our work must be intersectional. We can do that by uplifting the work already being done by Black, Brown, Indigenous, and immigrant serving organizations to develop solutions that actually work for our communities. In Los Angeles, the communities these groups serve face the highest risk of climate threats,” said Katherine Cabrera, program manager for Capacity Building.
“The Greenlining Institute supports community stakeholders throughout LA County by connecting them with the capacity, resources and partnerships to create a just future—as identified by the community itself—where everyone can thrive.”
Global warming and climate change is already so far in the making, caused mainly by human kind, that at this point it is irreversible. However, if communities work together the process can be slowed down, as the effects are severe.
It can’t be ignored that every year it seems as if the summers are having longer heat waves, droughts are also longer-lasting, winters are also more intense with a higher chance of precipitation, not to mention strong winds that can result in hurricanes and tornadoes.
According to NASA’s website on combating global climate change, the rise of temperatures globally is mainly due to greenhouse gas emissions, which many scientists are certain will continue. Over the next century the temperatures can rise up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The recent
Climate National Climate Assessment Reports predict the following:
• Temperatures will continue to rise; however, it won’t happen gradually and equally.
• More droughts and heatwaves are becoming more intense with longer periods.
• Precipitation patterns will change and heavy precipitation will continue, even in regions where drought is predicted.
• Hurricanes will intensify in the North Atlantic.
• Growing- and frost-free season will continue to be lengthy, which has a negative effect on agriculture and ecosystems.
• Sea-levels will rise due to the ice melting on land, as well as ice melting in Antarctica, and the expansion of sea water due to increase of temperatures. It is predicted that sea levels will rise another 1 to 8 feet by 2100.
• The Arctic ocean is predicted to be free of ice by mid-century.
Regionally, this can be expected in the US, according to NASA on Global Climate Change:
• Midwest: The midwest can expect heavy precipitation, flooding and extreme heat, which will affect human quality of life and the environment. The Great Lakes will also be at risk.
• Northeast: The northeast can also expect heavy precipitation and an increase in heat waves, as well as rising sea levels, which will have a major effect on the ecosystems in water and on land, as well as infrastructure. Therefore many cities and states are already incorporating climate change in their planning.
• Southeast: Sea levels in the southeast are expected to continue rising and will pose a major threat to human quality of life and their environment. Heatwaves are also expected, and less access to water will pose a threat to human and animal health.
• Northwest: The northwest is also expected to have rising sea levels, flooding, changes in streamflow causing reduced water supplies, erosion, and increased ocean acidity. In addition, more wildfires, tree diseases, insects, and dying trees.
• Southwest: The southwest is expected to experience an increase in droughts, insects, heatwaves, wildfires, a decrease in water supplies and reduced opportunities for agriculture among other impacts.
The mission statement of the Greenlining Institute entails working toward a future where underrepresented groups – especially communities of color – are able to build wealth, live in healthy environments filled with opportunities, and are prepared to face the challenges brought by climate change.
The Greenlining Institute is committed to bring this vision to life, by being an advocate for transformative change, as well as pushing new policy ideas for a better economy.
“Exposure to transportation pollution in communities of color is tied to decades of segregation and structural racism in land-use decisions and government policy, which has resulted in low-income communities of color living in disproportionately over-polluted environments,” Legal Counsel for Environmental Equity, Román Partida-López told Our Weekly.
“The time is now for California and its agencies to focus on investments that prioritize the public health and mobility needs of frontline communities. The state’s inaction and underinvestment in low-income and communities of color has exacerbated the impacts of environmental racism leading to poor air quality and socio-economic conditions,” he added.
“We don’t need more equity washing, what we need is transformative action that will lead to more projects that improve the mobility needs and quality of life of our most impacted communities. That’s why The Greenlining Institute maintains a comprehensive focus on mobility equity. We’re operating at the intersections of mobility equity, transportation equity, and climate resilience to better serve communities that are most impacted,” Cabrera said.
Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) is one Los Angeles community group which is designed to build grassroots power to create social and economic justice for low-income, immigrant, woman, femme, Black, and Brown communities in Los Angeles.
SCOPE organizes communities, develops leaders, collaborates through strategic alliances, builds capacity through training programs, and educates South L.A.’s residents to have an active role in shaping policies that affect the quality of life in the region.