I won’t lie to you- as I write this I am close to tears. The declaration that Donald Trump will be our future president came as a shock to me. It came as a shock to many—which is likely a huge part of why it came to be at all. We were unprepared on many fronts, and a lack of preparation often leads to disaster. So last night as I went to sleep, I thought about this world, and my place in it—particularly my role as an environmentalist. And I woke up this morning and realized that it’s time to fight.
For the past 8 years we have had a president who believes in the science behind climate change. And still, things have not been easy. From day one, the difficulty level of being an educated environmentalist in this country has been hovering somewhere around a 9.5 or a 10. This past year, we saw the Flint water crisis desecrate a community. We were devastated by the low bar set by the Paris Agreements. And we now watch, in horror, at the events playing out daily at Standing Rock.
“When the difficulty level has been set at 10 for this long, Donald Trump cranking the dial up to 11 is nothing we can’t handle.”
As the votes rolled in, we panicked internally as a Climate Change Denier came to be elected President of the United States. I sat next to a friend who wondered aloud if her job at an environmental non-profit would be at stake. I don’t have an answer to that. What I do know is that we have the strength to fight this. When the level of difficulty has been set at 10 for this long, Donald Trump cranking the dial up to 11 is nothing that we can’t handle.
We can’t change the way this election turned out. Here’s what we can do.
1. Support your local environmental non-profits.
If funding is about to be cut or diminished for the organizations on the ground in your community, it’s time to step up to the plate. Donate to local and national environmental groups if you have the resources. Alternately, donate your time. Knock on doors. Get petitions signed. Focus on the local level, in your communities. If we can’t rely on things working out from the top down, it’s time to go from the ground up.
2. Buy Locally.
Never underestimate the power of voting with your wallet. It’s a vote you can make every day, and the outcome is almost always guaranteed to land favorably. Buy your food from organic grocers, local coops and farmers markets. Avoid mega-corporations and those who support Monsanto. Research the origins of your products. You’d be surprised how many have political ties. If we can take away their sources of funding, we can cut many of the threads holding the web of corruption together.
Remember the Forward on Climate Rally? Remember how 50,000 people turned out to march to the White House? That was when Obama was president. Imagine how many people will be inspired to mobilize now that the circumstances are this dire. Start small scale movements in your hometown. Join existing marches and rallies and stand on corners with signs. Inform the public. Do not let the large scale rhetoric which is sure to flood the airways overpower your voice. Be an activist on social media, but take to the streets as well. Talk to your friends and relatives. Use science as your greatest tool.
4. Don’t lose focus.
Remember that there is so much work left to be done. Too much to even consider leaving the country. When the going gets tough, please tell me that you will not research the steps required to move to Canada. We need you here. We need to remember that the water in Flint, Michigan is still poisonous. That the Dakota Access Pipeline is still in the works. That at the top of the Trump agenda is green lighting Keystone. That millions of Americans do not have access to food and clean water, and that millions of others around the world are fighting to stay above water as the climate continues to rise. We need to use that knowledge as our driving force. We need to be angry enough to do something, but clear headed enough to continue to work.
This is perhaps the hardest part of being an environmentalist, but it’s also the most important. We face so many challenges every day. We see deforestation, Great Barrier Reef destruction, endangered species moving toward extinction, glacial melting, and the list goes on. We could give up so easily. But something inside us has to push us forward. Whether it be that you want to leave a better planet for your children, or that you believe morally this is the right thing to do, find your hope and hold on to it like a life raft. Lend it to others—it is large enough to share. We will get through the next 4 years, and we will do so unwaveringly.
Today, it is okay to mourn. But even while we are mourning, let’s make a vow to this planet and to each other. We will not let the future of our environment be decided by one man. We will remember what we know to be fact and we will use the strength and the drive that we have always had to continue to push us forward.