(Editor’s note: the writer is a UC Davis student who has requested to submit this anonymously) – It has been six months since hundreds of Aggies took the streets in protest of the election of yet another racist misogynist to the highest office in all the land, and already calls for his impeachment can be found on every media outlet from Democracy Now! to USA Today. Those seeking justice, however, should consider that while impeachment might present a temporary solution to a symptom of capitalism, what we need now is to eradicate this disease in its entirety before it takes us all down with it.
Unfortunately, time is not on our side and the stakes for our young species have never been higher, yet fossil fueled corporate and government interests continue to disregard decades long research on the environment in favor of extreme extraction operations in pursuit of the almighty dollar. In fact, famed scholar Noam Chomsky recently declared the U.S. Republican Party to be the “most dangerous organization in history,” over their climate denial and resolve to “accelerate humanity to the precipice of extinction,” though Democrats also continue to fail those who elected them by remaining beholden to special interests and refusing to allow real progressives to lead key positions within the party.
Indeed, our own government — especially the Department of Defense — is largely responsible for irreversible climate change which disproportionately affects immigrants, the poor and Communities of Color from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and beyond. This global crisis is more than just a question of the environment; it is an issue of public health, food sovereignty, water scarcity, and human rights at the most basic level with many millions already facing widespread famine or becoming climate refugees.
The magnitude of this catastrophe should come as no surprise to University of California students, whose institution regularly tops global “most environmentally sustainable campuses” lists and employs brilliant climate scientists who have been screaming at the top of their lungs that we are in decade zero of a full-blown climate crisis. We students understand that the technology to transition to 100% renewable energy as fast as possible certainly exists, yet the University of California remains complicit in climate Armageddon through direct investments in the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $2.8 billion.
Not only must we prevent our tuition dollars from funding dirty energy, but the time has come to organize ourselves to take bold action in the name of climate justice and recognize our legacy as UC students (from the Free Speech Movement in the 60’s to the Occupy Protest’s pepper-spray incident in 2011) to speak truth to power and be warriors on the forefront of social change!
Although the walls of the University Corporation may feel constricting at times, the privilege of being students here is usually enough to shield us from prosecution for regularly discussing and taking action on what Latin American land defenders and journalists get killed for bringing to light on a weekly basis. Struggles like the #noDAPL movement represent the frontlines of a long-waged war between the forces of colonialism and a people whose roots will not stay buried, and our best chance at liberation is to bolster these resistances while cultivating our own back home.
We should also acknowledge and show gratitude to over 600 UC students for demanding fossil fuel divestment through nonviolent direct action during the month of May, including powerful campus demonstrations, overnight sit-ins and even some arrests, ultimately resulting in public statements from four UC chancellors supporting the Fossil Free UC campaign, though the struggle for divestment remains ongoing.
The youth of today do not have the luxury of continuing to rely on those in power to act on climate change; all signs indicate that if we wait until tomorrow to be the leaders our communities so desperately need, it will have been too late. Business as usual, the entire western power structure remains committed to extreme exploitation and consuming the very Earth it sits atop of, and as such the task falls onto us to follow the lead of intersectional movements around the world in reclaiming our narratives and fighting for the liberation we know our people deserve!