A second youth climate strike on May 3 built on the first one on March 15, at least in Hartford. While the turnout of youth was actually smaller than in March, their alignment with many climate groups and state legislators showed the savvy of these teenage organizers. After a short rally outside, everyone filed into a room in the Capitol where a press conference was in progress, and one “elder” youth leader (age 19), Mitchel Kvedar, spoke in Greta Thunberg phrases about the crisis and youths’ demands that their real elders take action. He focused, as did several of the legislators and NGO spokespersons, on the need to restore the energy efficiency funds that electric utility customers pay on their monthly bills, which were diverted (stolen) two years ago by the General Assembly to fill a budget hole. Click here to read or listen to a five-minute segment with Kvedar on Between the Lines.
Rep. Mary Mushinsky, the longest-serving member of the House and a climate champion for the past 30 years, said there’s no budget shortfall this year so it should be a no-brainer to stop this year’s diversion of the $54 million in energy efficiency funds. The money is meant to be used for making homes and businesses more energy efficient, which lowers bills and provides many more jobs than, for example, building out fracked gas infrastructure.
In another piece of good news, New York State declined to give a water quality permit to the Williams Company to build a fracked gas pipeline under the New York harbor. But the denial was issued "without prejudice," meaning Williams can apply again, which the company has already said it will do.
A new documentary on Netflix called Knock Down the House is inspiring, and no doubt reaching beyond the usual suspects of those demanding climate action. It follows the 2018 House campaigns of four progressive women, including Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who was the only one who won. Some of the footage highlights her focus on the need to address the climate crisis.
And the youth-led Sunrise Movement just completed a whirlwind 200 town hall meetings in 46 states to call for putting the climate crisis front and center in the 2020 election.
There’s also more incontrovertible proof that investing in renewable energy brings way better returns than fossil fuels, despite Trump’s efforts to promote the latter.
So…it feels like the ocean liner of public opinion and action is starting to make its very slow turn toward survival.
But…a new report says one million species are likely to go extinct in the next few decades if we don’t immediately and drastically lower our carbon footprint, and guess what?
The latest figures show we have reached 415 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, up dramatically from just over 400 in 2013. And since climate scientists say we must reduce CO2 to 350 ppm to have any hope of long-term survival on Earth, it seems we just aren’t turning the ship fast enough.