Issue 19 Editor's Note: From the Giants' Shadow
March 22, 2022

In this newsletter, our lead stories focus on the growing threat to American democracy in the form of voter suppression, and the persistence of an unsustainable healthcare system. Both present enormous challenges to achieving climate justice. Amidst increasing efforts by corporate polluters and conservative politicians to suppress our right to vote, as well as the anti-ecological practices of the healthcare industry, the mission of the climate justice movement is clear: to emerge from the shadow of these giants and build new political-economic institutions that are more accountable to both people and the planet.  

The healthcare system is certainly such a titan. This industry paradoxically opens its doors to the public as a refuge to treat our wounds and illnesses, but it simultaneously plays a role as an architect of our infirmity. The healthcare industry is a major environmental polluter and indulges in unsustainable operations like emitting toxic chemicals and improper medical waste disposal. We are essentially trapped on a circular conveyor belt that escorts us through the entrance of hospitals, out their back doors and into the unhealthy environment they helped create, and back in the front doors once again.  

However, this is now beginning to change in a major way. This can be seen in the recent successes of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), which works to transform the healthcare sector worldwide to reduce its environmental footprint, and become a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. Health Care Without Harm revolves around the philosophy that healthy people need a healthy planet, and we cannot achieve climate justice without organizations like HCWH advocating for the structural changes we need in global healthcare.

Similarly, fossil fuel interests and ally corporations that make up “the polluter-industrial complex” are now working to suppress the vote of those people who care the most about a clean and healthy environment. Voter suppression legislation is sweeping the nation, adversely restricting the collective efforts to fight climate change and stifling our enshrined right to advocate for other social and environmental justice issues that affect our wellbeing. These bills have been found to strategically target the disenfranchising Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, citizens residing in low-income communities, students, and progessive sectors of the White working class. Not only are these people and communities disproportionately at risk for environmental harms, but they are also the communities who are more likely to hold strong pro-environmental and pro-climate change views.

William Earnest Henley’s Poem Invictus is as timely now as it was when written in 1875. 

The final couplet of the poem gives an empowering message:

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus, meaning “unconquerable” or “undefeated” in Latin, is a mantra we must repeat to ourselves, a reminder to never lose hope no matter the circumstances. We control our collective fate and are the architects of our future. Holding on to our dignity in the face of adversity is essential to holding powerful entities accountable and restrain their attempts to limit our most fundamental human rights and rights of citizenship – to live in a clean and healthy environment.  

At the Center, we recognize the power of solidarity across racial, class, gender, ethnic, geographic, and generational lines to advance a truly intersectional climate justice perspective. The right to vote allows us to be the architects of our fate but we need the power of collectivity which cannot exist without economic, racial, and social justice. The solutions we need are currently being fostered by diverse and innovative initiatives and coalitions. Our work begins by elevating their voices and bringing to light the power that all individual voices have collectively.  

Lauren Goldberg


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