Our time is running out. A Swedish scientist by the name of Svante Arrhenius was one of the first to recognize climate change as a potential problem in 1896, so why is it that in the year 2020 we have yet to make any big steps towards reversing its effects? There are internationally recognized climate activists trying to stop it every day, but the people on the cover of the Time magazine are not the only ones in the fight. This is where the Sunrise Movement comes in.
The Sunrise Movement is a union of people across America who are making our climate, our world, and our futures the priority. Not only are fossil fuels poisoning the atmosphere, they have the potential to bring on financial ruin in the years to come. Unfortunately, the American economy literally runs on this power, unsustainable as it is, and is unwilling to change. The Sunrise Movement’s proposed solution is in the Green New Deal and their supporters. If we the people want to save ourselves, our democracy says so be it. But who exactly are these people fighting for the Green New Deal?
Young, passionate activists across America are behind the movement. Even though you may not have heard of it until today, it is growing and growing fast. In fact, Millburn has its very own hub called Millburn Sunrise. Founded by Millburn Middle School’s very own Skaila Sirdeshpande, she and a small group of students are joining the fight towards a cleaner existence. “We have about ten years to make a change,” says Sirdeshpande, “[and] I strongly believe [that] we can do our part […] while it’s still possible.” There are ten years left to reinvent the world, and it is on the shoulders of the youth, like Skaila and like yourself, to get it done.
Revolutions don’t happen overnight, however, and the Green New Deal and the Sunrise Movement recognize this. Before climate change’s effects become irreversible, the Green New Deal pushes America to run on 100% renewable energy by the end of the decade. It also requests a transition for frontline communities and workers. If we start now, the 10-year plan might be early enough to literally save the world. The Green New Deal doesn’t stop there though; it demands that every household in America is guaranteed at least a living-wage, providing jobs and enough opportunities for our economy to thrive. Instead of the market crashing in the year 2030, it could be the start of a fully sustainable profit.
So why hasn’t the nonbinding Green New Deal been accepted yet? There have been sit-ins and strike circles, but Congress has yet to approve. If America is a leader in greenhouse gas emissions, it has to be a leader for the world to have net-zero emissions by 2050. Nevertheless, American leadership has yet to make up its mind. Republicans claim that the Green New Deal promotes socialism and discloses the Democratic disconnect towards environmental issues; Democrats argue that it is useless because Senate leaders refuse to address the topic head on. The real problem is that our federal government is too busy pointing fingers to decide. That is why it is up to the people in the Sunrise Movement to get the people’s voices heard over the cutthroat political environment before it’s too late.
Together we can make a difference, but a national organization needs support from every person they can get. Luckily, you can help push America towards a brighter future from the comfort of your own home during this time of quarantine. In the words of Sirdeshpande, Millburn Sunrise is, “a group of dedicated students and citizens […] educating themselves on how we can continue to make environmentally conscious decisions despite the pandemic,” among other things. Here are some tips from their last meeting on how to do your part, even under our current circumstances:
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Be conservative of your paper towels and napkins, and make sure that you’re recycling whatever you can. Try your hand at upcycling.
Limit the use of single-sheet paper. When possible, write on scrap paper, notebooks, or even the computer instead of pulling out a fresh sheet of lined paper for every note.
Be mindful of food and water. Do the laundry with cold water instead of warm or turn off the tap when you brush your teeth.
Go vegetarian for one day per week; 2,400 gallons of water are used for every pound of meat.
Plant a garden. Growing your own produce is not only rewarding but eco-friendly, too.
Unplug devices to conserve energy. After finishing your work, take a break outside. Remember to turn off the lights if it’s either bright enough that you don’t need a lamp or when you’re leaving a room.
The Earth is changing; there’s no doubt about that. Climate change simply can’t be pushed off like another school project. There are no extended deadlines, no extra credit, and no in-class examples for where we are going. As it currently stands, the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal are some of America’s biggest hopes, but ten years will go by quickly. It is the duty of the people to change the world for the better before it is changed for good.