Tides Are Rising
Digital Magazine #4
If you’re an earthling like us, with any attachment to current events, you’ve likely heard rumblings of the climate movement swelling worldwide. You may have witnessed or joined the young people, from Dublin to D.C., who took to the streets to demand climate justice over the past weeks. In Richmond it was no different.
Skinny Dipper was in attendance at the Richmond Climate Strike on September 20th as hundreds of Virginians marched for radical action on climate change. And since then we’ve teamed up with Kylie Holcomb, Tristan Ruark, and Kendyl Crawford to put together this sensory reflection of the experience. (Not least because it was barely covered by outlets like the Richmond Times-Dispatch).
Part 1: Climate Strike
You and two hundred people or so, mostly young, predominantly but not entirely white, crowd onto the steps of the local town hall. Kendyl Crawford, a slender black woman, stands at the top of the stairs and faces the protesters below. From the sea of people emanates an energy of concern and frustration. For some this is their first march. For others their tenth. The issue, the issue of climate change, has been the subject of many marches before. Yet little reform has materialized. Now it seems that people have had enough. While some are close to giving up, others are growing in hope, somehow. Others still are considering violence. Kendyl takes a megaphone and leads them all in a song that starts with “WE.”
Call and response led by Kendyl Crawford and compiled by Dr. Faith Harris, Director and Chair of VA Interfaith Power and Light, respectively. Published with permission.
Drawing from TJ Rinoski
Photos from Kylie Newcomb
Photo from John Schengber
Photos from Tristan Ruark
This event was important to us because we value Virginia’s role as a potential leader in the fight against climate change, just as much as we fear our state’s current role as a roadblock to progress and an instrument of the fossil fuel industry.
As of today, Virginia is mostly on track to host the construction of two new natural gas pipelines that would exacerbate climate change, and we still have not joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based program to cut carbon emissions that Virginia almost joined in 2019 until the state legislature prevented the move via fine print in the budget.
Superficial signs of climate leadership — like Governor Northam’s recently unveiled pipedream to become carbon-free by 2050, and the offshore wind development touted by Dominion Energy, Virginia’s most powerful politician — are transparent and worthless in the face of past and current behavior by the state.
As long as Virginia continues to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure, whether through explicit action or indirect enablement, to the benefit of Big Gas and at the expense of communities of color like Union Hill, the Commonwealth is playing a leading role in worsening climate change, perpetuating environmental racism, and showing the world how little we care for our common future.
Notes on our signs:
“Wells Fargo Loves Fracking”
A mock bumper sticker for Wells Fargo, which is one of 6 main-street banks (others include Suntrust and Bank of America) responsible for financing the Mountain Valley pipeline (MVP). The MVP is a natural gas pipeline that relies on fracking to extract fossil fuel from the ground, and in doing so exacerbates climate change through methane leaks. If the Mountain Valley Pipeline is completed and begins operation, it would emit 89.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year, equivalent to 26 coal plants or 19 million passenger vehicles. By investing in such damaging infrastructure, Wells Fargo is shackling Virginia to a fossil-fuel future that lines the pockets of Big Gas and hurts everyday citizens.
“If Only Dorian Hit D.C.”
Both a rhetorical “what-if”, wondering how the national climate change discourse would be different if Hurricane Dorian had hovered over our government center for 40 hours instead of the Bahamas, and a tear shed for the fact that Dorian inflicted so much destruction on a nation like the Bahamas, which holds almost no responsibility for climate change-induced hurricanes when compared to the United States.
A petition to our state’s government and citizenry to take seriously the outsized and self-serving influence of Dominion Energy on the direction of our state politics and civic life. In other words, a plea to keep money out of politics.
Help from conservatives is genuinely needed in the fight against climate change. See below.
“Nearly all liberal Democrats (94%, including independents who lean to the party) consider climate change a major threat to the nation now, up 30 percentage points from 2013. Three-quarters of moderate/conservative Democrats say the same, up from 54% in 2013.
By contrast, there has been no significant change among either moderate or conservative Republicans on this issue. (While the share of moderate/liberal Republicans who see climate change as a major threat is up 9 percentage points since 2013, this change is not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.)”
Skinny Dipper intends to be an active partner in advocating for climate justice. (It should not be and must cease to be a partisan issue.) We'll hope you'll join us.
Part 2: Climate Change Zine
To share your experience of climate change, we invite you to submit to our upcoming climate change zine. We welcome any type of expression that reflects how you are grappling with the most pressing issue of our time. Read more below and share with your friends!