I’m going to Chevron Saturday.
There’s only one of me, this is only one piece of the work of trying to limit carbon emissions and thereby climate change, but I’ll be joined by hundreds, maybe thousands of others, and this is the work we are here to do, all of us, you too, because it’s your cause and your job. If you care about anything at all—your own future past next week or next year, the price of food, the poor almost everywhere, peace on earth, the people who live in fragile places from Bolivia to Ethiopia to to Alaska to Louisiana, the kids who will be living on earth in fifty years, the fish in the sea and the complex web of living things on earth, the forests of the west, the democratic process—you care about climate change. It is the overarching issue that affects all others, from the food we eat and the financial systems of the world to the nonhuman life on earth on which our lives depend. It’s everything. It’s the size of everything else: it’s the entire living surface of our earth, from the depths of the oceans to the birds in the sky; it’s the atmosphere that shapes our weather and our fate.
The problem with climate change is that it’s everywhere and all the time. I’m not talking about the problem of what it’s doing to the earth and to most everything I love, but how hard it is to get people to respond to it. How do you focus on something that in a sense has no focus, no single center, because it’s at the poles and the tropics and the drought-stricken midwest and the low snowpack in the mountains and the heat waves in the summer and the turbulent record-breaking weather all year? One way is to focus on who’s making it worse, preventing solutions from being implemented, profiting from the devastation, and the worst culprits in so many ways are the oil corporations.
The funny thing about living in the Bay Area is that, whether people love it or hate it, they think it’s all treehuggers and antiwar activists here, but considerable machinery for the military, for capitalism, for the violation of human and constitutional rights, and for the war on nature is based here. One place they all converge is Chevron Corporation. The corporation, one of the most powerful on earth, is present here as both a toxic neighbor to the people of Richmond—who doesn’t remember that terrible fire that shut down the city for days last summer and sent so many people to the hospital—and as a corrupting force whose huge economic and political influence is used to prevent us from shifting away from a carbon-centered energy economy. Chevron is a menace, to life on earth, to the democratic process that should at the very least be looking after that portion of life on earth called US citizens, to one of the most poorest communities in our rich region.
The good news is that we can do something about it, that we have the power, that we—the we of Richmond’s great activist communities, of the indigenous movement called Idle No More, of the singularly effective climate group 350.org and the people fighting Big Coal, mountaintop removal, and the Tar Sands pipeline-- have been doing some remarkable things and winning some unlikely battles. Sometimes we win. We can win this, but only if we fight. Showing up at Chevron isn’t the only thing I do, but it’s an essential part of it, and it’s your fight too. See you there.
On August 3, people from across California and beyond will meet at 10am at the Richmond BART Station to March on the Chevron Oil Refinery on the one year anniversary of the 2012 explosion and fire. For more information go to: joinsummerheat.org/bay