Haley and I always sit around our little table on Sunday nights with our planners open, scheduling out the week and what we want to get done. I have always been a list maker- eager to check mark or cross off. She suggested that Wednesday night, we go to our first Greenpeace meeting.
In the short two hours in an artist loft in downtown Los Angeles, my mind opened to an entire new world. The concept that not only are fossil fuels destroying our planet, but they are destroying communities, people’s lives. Even more, the lives that are ruined by gas leaks and drill plants are selected deliberately: low income or minority neighborhoods suffer the most. Big oil and gas companies like SoCal gas quite literally have a color coordinated map painting in places of low income, target those areas, and hide huge drills in windowless buildings. I have seen some of these driving in and out of Los Angeles and only thought of them as eerie, but never destructive.
Last week, the Los Angeles community, people effected by the gas leak in Porter ranch, and activists as far from Arizona and NorCal came to join in for a peaceful protest.
It was unlike anything I had ever been to. We gathered in front of the Capitol building and listened to people’s speeches and stories for two hours. Activists and survivors came forward to share what they had learned. Featuring a girl who has been an activist against SoCal gas since she was 9, when she started having seizures from the methane leaks at a nearby plant. I listened to a man cry over his little brother who died of brain cancer, and how his two other siblings also developed cancer from such bad air pollution and negligence of oil companies. I heard a leader of the community in Porter Ranch explain how the biggest methane gas leak in all of California’s history went largely unnoticed. Until people in the community had nosebleeds, headaches, seizures, cancer, and pets began dropping dead without any explanation. The community had to get infrared cameras and methane analyzers before SoCal gas finally admit it’s mistake and shut down the plant. She explained how 10,000 people had to evacuate their homes and have still not been able to return. Some people had drill sites less than five feet from their home.
Environmental racism is something I had never knew existed. How certain people don’t even have access to clean air because of where they live.
The good thing is, we can change all of this.
Running on completely renewable energy is more than possible. Hawaii became the first state to pledge completely renewable by 2030. We can break free from fossil fuel dependency and enter a new chapter where everybody has clean air and the oil stays in the ground.
How you can insight change, first and foremost is to educate yourself! I recommend watching the Gasland film also available on netflix! It explains what fracking is, how it is bad for the people and the environment, and sheds light on a lot of things I didn’t know were going on.
Second thing you can do is to use your voice. Join your local Greenpeace or another group that is fighting to save the environment. All it takes is a quick google search!
Lastly, and perhaps the most important thing you can do is VOTE. Who you elect decides what happens to the planet + it’s people. Vote for people who are against fracking or are fighting for renewable energy. Your voice is your vote.