I almost cannot wrap my mind around the photos of the burning Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Often referred to as the earth’s lungs, the destruction of the Amazon’s flora, fauna, animals, and overall ecosystem should frighten all of us and encourage the entire global community to act. Unfortunately, politics are at play—self-serving partisan politicians do not fully understand the gravity of the situation—and we are left to sit on the sidelines while relative pennies are dedicated to saving the Amazon and the entire planet as a whole.
Unfortunately, the news of the burning Amazon rainforest has already vanished from the front pages of our newspapers and been replaced by the potentially devastating Hurricane Dorian. All of these dangerous environmental moments are connected in that they are primarily man-made and those in power do not want to dedicate resources for the short-term or long-term planning to prevent future calamities.
The pictures of the Bahamas essentially underwater remind me of the photos of New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Antigua, and so many other islands and cities rendered completely helpless by the destruction of Mother Nature. It is evidently clear that the current occupant of the White House possesses a white nationalist view of the world and the devastation that has befallen so many thousands of families of color do not resonate with this president, his administration, or anyone with power to actually provide the financial support or strategic vision to prevent these tragedies.
So what do we do with leaders who do not believe climate change is real? How do we combat an entire Republican Party that ignores science and fact-based predictions pertaining to the irreversible effects of the damage to our planet? My short-term solution has been to try to elect individuals who believe in climate change. That means supporting candidates from across the country that will help change the composition of Congress and even their statehouses. My longer-term goal has been to try to do my part to decrease my negative carbon footprint on the earth. When I was younger, I participated in Earth Day celebrations and learned about recycling, turning off lights when not in the room, ceasing to use aerosol spray (even though I loved hairspray and big bangs), and shopping locally to reduce packaging waste. For those of you who order from Amazon.com regularly, observe just how much packaging surrounds a small item. That waste also contributes to our environmental destruction. Buying locally could be a small gesture to ensure the vitality of our environment. In addition, you are likely helping a small business stay afloat in your own community.
We share this planet and we must begin acting like a collective family. Time is no longer on our side.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC, and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.