Climate Justice in Boston
Strengthening Our Communities and Building Our Resistance!
By Evan Greer
Riding off the energy of the U.S. Social Forum, and drawing inspiration from social movements all around the world, the Climate Justice movement is gaining momentum in the Northeast. With the most credible predictions saying we have less than ten years to radically reduce our CO2 emissions in order to prevent devastating runaway climate change, communities everywhere are resisting the fossil fuels industry, preparing to respond to climate disasters, and standing in solidarity with those who will be most affected by the climate crisis.
The communities most affected by climate change are the same communities that are already oppressed and marginalized by governments and corporations. Across the world, communities of color, indigenous communities, and the low-income communities where fossil fuels are extracted and burned. Hurricane Katrina was a harrowing warning of one possible future if we allow consumer culture and institutional racism to continue. Rather than passively allowing genocide to take place against these communities, we should be standing in solidarity with them, joining their struggles when asked, and learning from those who have the traditional skills that we will all need to survive the climate crisis.
In Boston, a local chapter of the international Rising Tide Network has recently formed to strengthen the connections between environmental and social justice organizations in the Northeast, and to decrease our dependence on the consumptive patterns, institutions and
corporations that are killing the planet. Rising Tide sees climate change not as an isolated
environmental issue, but as directly connected to struggles against racism, capitalism, colonialism, gender oppression, and the exploitation of the earth and non-human animals.
Rising Tide Boston has been meeting at the Lucy Parsons Center every first and third Sunday at 6pm to plan for climate justice actions, skillshares, and events in the area. Rising Tide is working with other groups and individuals from all over the Northeast to plan for the 2008 Northeast Climate Confluence, which will be held somewhere in the Northeast at the end of July. This large-scale convergence will coincide with other climate justice gatherings across the U.S. as well as in the UK, Germany, Australia, and elsewhere. The Confluence will be a place for people from a diverse array of social movements to explore how our struggles are connected, share skills and resources, and strategize ways to resist and build realistic, just, and sustainable alternatives to corporate power. The gathering will culminate with a large-scale direct action against the fossil fuels industry and for climate justice around the world. The organizers are working to make the action and the Confluence accessible to all those who wish to participate regardless of language, income, immigration status, physical ability, or age.
Continentally, Rising Tide North America is working on three major campaigns in addition to organizing the regional Confluences in July. The False Solutions campaign, or Greenwash Guerillas, recently drew national media attention for a hoax against the US-CAP, a large group of corporations who claim to be concerned about climate change. That campaign focuses on combating the various corporate-sponsored “solutions” to global warming like carbon trading and offsets, bio-fuels, clean coal, and nuclear energy. Rising Tide is also partnering with other environmental groups in calling for the Fossil Fools Day of action on April 1st 2008, to draw attention to the worst perpetrators of fossil fuels emissions. Finally, Rising Tide is launching a large campaign of education: offering workshops and trainings in high schools, community centers, and universities, all starting conversations about the realities of climate change and provide tools for serious action on the issues. Groups who want to bring a speaker or a workshop from Rising Tide should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also working with our friends at the Beehive Collective and the Riot-Folk! Collective to develop art and music to spread the word about real solutions to climate change.
Other projects include an ongoing campaign against CitiBank and Bank of America, who are major funders of Mountaintop Removal Mining, an extremely destructive process where mountains are literally leveled by explosives in order to extract the coal inside. Entire ecosystems and communities in Appalachia are facing extinction due to this type of mining, and they need our solidarity. Many Bostonians would be surprised to learn that a significant portion of the energy that Massachusetts uses comes from coal, much of it from coal on stolen indigenous land in Colombia (see Aviva Chomsky’s recent article in the Boston Phoenix: “The Dirty Story Behind Local Energy,” http://thephoenix.com/article_ektid48183.aspx.) Rising Tide Boston plans to do everything we can to take action locally in support of the communities who pay the highest price for our energy consumption.
There also are many environmental justice struggles right here in Boston that deserve our solidarity. Accordingly, Rising Tide will also be supporting the groups that have been fighting Boston University’s proposed Level 4 Bioweapons Lab in Roxbury, as well as the various groups resisting power plants, planting community gardens, and doing
solidarity work with political prisoners. We don’t seek to overshadow or replace any of the amazing groups that already exist, but rather to help create a forum where groups can better work together and stay connected.
Now is a great time to get involved with organizing for the Confluence and other Rising Tide Boston events. We will be organizing monthly workshops and skillshares leading up to July to strengthen our networks and gain concrete skills around urban sustainability, direct action, anti-oppression, community healthcare, grassroots disaster relief, and more! We recently co-sponsored a benefit show on January 18th, to support Sadie and Exile, environmental defense activists who were targeted by the FBI during the Greenscare, a nation-wide sweep-up of earth and animal liberation activists that took place in the winter of 2005 and the spring of 2006. On Wednesday, February 6th at 6pm at the Lucy Parsons Center, we are hosting a speaking event for indigenous folks in Canada who are resisting the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, which will further displace indigenous communities and further environmental destruction in that area.
Rising Tide Boston strives to be physically and culturally accessible to everyone who wants to be involved. We are organizing across movements and generations and use consensus to make sure that everyone’s ideas are given equal weight. Please contact us if you would like to be involved: email@example.com or 978-852-6457.
For more information about Rising Tide and other Climate Action campaigns, check out www.risingtidenorthamerica.org or www.risingtide.org.uk
Indigenous Environmental Network - www.ien.org
The Beehive Collective -
The Riot-Folk! Collective -
Rainforest Action Network -
Carbon Trade Watch -
Other articles by Evan Greer.