When I was a child, Wednesday was Incinerator Day, the day they burned the garbage we all threw down the garbage chute in the six story brick apartment building my family lived in (which was one of a dozen six story brick apartment buildings that were all part of the same Brooklyn complex we called home.)
It doesn’t look any different in this recent Google satellite shot than it did in 1965 when the white and grey ash used to fall from the skies and cover our clothes, hair cars, trees, streets and everything else under the chimneys each buildings’ incinerators spewed their emissions out of. Don’t even get me started about the aroma that permeated the air every “Ash Wednesday” as my Catholic mother dubbed hump day.
This was five years before the Clean Air Act of 1970, before any kind of regulations on car and truck emissions or fuel standards or burning your garbage.
One of the fundamental goals of the Clean Air Act was “To protect public health and welfare from any adverse effects.“
The Greenius says goals are nice and cute, but commitments and action are what gets things done and commitment comes at its most potent and powerful form when it is driven by people acting on behalf of their basic human rights – it’s been proven throughout history.
Today, right here, right now the biggest and most immediate threat we face is the destruction of our climate and a future of hell and high water for the Baby Boomers, their kids and grandkids.
The Greenius declares that human rights don’t get any more basic than the right to a liveable climate and a future civilization that comes close to the prosperity, progress and successful pursuit of happiness that we’ve all enjoyed for decades.
I’ve got a right to retire and enjoy the rest of my life hiking in Yosemite, Big Sur, Sequoia and all the other national and California state parks, visiting my friends around the country, working out in the garden, riding my bike and learning to ocean kayak off the coast of the Palos Verdes Peninsula where I make my home today and where we’re still burning garbage – although now we’re burning it in cars we drive and the power plants that supply our electricity and the ships we can see in the port that bring our imports here and in the refinery facilities surrounding us.
My young friends in their 40s, 30s, 20s and teens not only have the right to a future that’s better, brighter and cleaner than our past but they sure as shit also have a basic human right not to suffer the consequences of the fossil fuel companies continuing to burn climate-killing carbon for profit.
When human rights are so cruelly abused and the abuser knows full well the damage being done and the suffering being inflicted by its victims there can be no other response then forcing the abuser to cease and desist and then make restitution and bring justice and recovery to the victims.
All other human rights abuses will pale in comparison to willingly failing to respond.