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People Not Polar Bears–Refocusing the Message

I have noticed a shift in the discourse on climate change. The slogan People Not Polar Bears has been gaining traction in the USA, which makes sense since most people here do not identify as environmentalists. It also points to a deepening environmental justice message.  Fellow queer Quaker, Jed Walsh, tweeted an article to me about a rally in Seattle that took on an environmental issue–drilling for oil in the Arctic–with a focus on the people who will most be affected by it.

Hundreds of people—one organizer estimated more than a thousand—attended the event. Leaders from Bayan-USA, Got Green, Gabriela Seattle, Greenpeace, Plant for the Planet, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation delivered speeches before the crowd marched south to Port of Seattle headquarters with big signs and a red kayak full of handwritten messages to port commissioners. JOSHUA KELETY

Hundreds of people—one organizer estimated more than a thousand—attended the event. Leaders from Bayan-USA, Got Green, Gabriela Seattle, Greenpeace, Plant for the Planet, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation delivered speeches before the crowd marched south to Port of Seattle headquarters with big signs and a red kayak full of handwritten messages to port commissioners. JOSHUA KELETY

If 20th century environmentalism too often looked like white people expressing concern for pristine wilderness and endangered animals, Sunday’s protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs mooring in Seattle showed how much the movement has evolved.

The demonstration centered on people most adversely affected by a continued reliance on fossil fuels. They represented urban communities of color with disproportionate asthma rates, islanders displaced by rising sea levels, indigenous homes threatened by resource extraction, and those hard-pressed to afford survival when the worst effects of climate change arrive.

Check out the article in The Stranger and see the many photos of demonstrators stirring the public discussion towards environmental justice.

Featured Image: Aji Piper (center), president of the local Plant for the Planet chapter, dances with his brother and sister to an adaptation of “Uptown Funk” with lyrics about climate change and the oil industry. credit: JOSHUA KELETY

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Peterson Toscano

Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is www.petersontoscano.com

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