Climate Activism in a Post-Truth Society

Morgan Margulies is currently a Freshman at Columbia University in Manhattan majoring in Political Science and Mathematics-Statistics. He grew up in Nevada City, California, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Raised in the woods, Morgan developed a passion for the environment that surrounded him. In his free time, Morgan enjoys spending time at the Yuba River, climbing mountains, stargazing, and eating pesto pasta with basil from his family’s garden. His appreciation for nature translated into a dedication to environmental stewardship and restoration. Additionally, Morgan believes climate change is an issue of social justice and is concerned with how pollution disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Morgan is enthusiastic about grass roots organizing and is ecstatic to be working with Our Climate, an organization he believes can influence meaningful policy to take climate change head on.


 

In November, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported shocking information regarding the urgency and magnitude of climate change. The IPCC showed that climate change is poised to become existentially threatening if the world doesn’t cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically in the next 12 years. This report was not only terrifying for coastal, rural, and low lying communities who would bear the brunt of climate change-related impacts, but this conclusion also sunk deep into the hearts of fossil fuel CEOs and the politicians they have purchased. Does the mass publicity of this report mean that it’ll be less politically popular to extract from that untapped oil reserve?

But don’t worry, when you have the amount of money a fossil fuel CEO has, the politicians do what you want and the science says what you want. The Washington Times reported that the White House had announced its plan to create a panel of federally selected scientists to reassess the correlation between fossil fuels and climate change. This attack on climate science is nothing new for the man organizing the panel, William Happer, who was previously exposed for taking money from fossil fuel interests to publish articles that may not even pass through a peer review.  

The science of climate change however, is no longer a question. The accumulation of data beginning at the origins of climate research should speak for itself. Do we really live in a world in which scientific consensus is no longer enough to prove a fact that defines our reality? This is frightening. How will there ever be policy aimed at confronting real problems when we can never even agree on what reality is?

For those of us with a commitment to truths based in scientific fact, it feels quite unfair that our lives are being put in jeopardy by those living in their own constructed reality. A commitment to truth however, may prove to be our mightiest tool. We have come to learn that there most definitely is power in both knowledge and numbers.

We have seen an explosion of environmental activism in the past years from strikes organized by sixteen year old Greta Thunberg to sit-ins organized by the youth-created Sunrise Movement. More and more people are finding their voices and demanding that our institutions make a return to politics based in truth. No matter who you are or how old you are, now is the time that we must collectively speak truth to power.

The opportunities to engage in politics are everywhere. In February, hundreds of activists traveled to Albany to demand their representatives endorse ambitious climate change legislation. The Climate, Jobs, and Justice Lobby Day, organized by NY Renews, resulted in several representatives announcing their support for this legislation, in no small part due to the testimonies of young people. A second opportunity in which you (yes YOU) can advocate for statewide progressive climate policy is on April 9th and is available to all students.

While it is important that our voices are heard within legislative buildings, the power of organizing cannot be underestimated. The realities constructed by political elites don’t stand against massive demonstrations of truth. Protest is a powerful tool that must be used to ensure our voices are heard. March 15th will be the day history remembers, as millions of people, spanning 50 different countries, will participate in an international Climate Strike to demand immediate action. On this day, the fight for a scientifically-based reality will culminate, and the world will see what it means to speak truth to power.

We cannot continue letting corrupt politicians distort what we know to be true. We have to organize and demonstrate at levels never seen before and we must lobby our representatives with a consistency greater than ever. The fight is happening: now is the time to join before the question of fact or falsity becomes a question of life or death.


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