By Luke Simons
Head over to the Fayetteville Public Library this Sunday for a great opportunity to find out where the frontlines are in battles to bring the fossil fuels industry to justice. That’s right — there actually are front-lines… And there is plenty to share, some of it very good news. Granted, not all of it is good, but all the more reason to become better informed. There are folks with their finger on the corrupt pulse and work is happening at all levels to help societies make the shift away from these petro-giants’ tyrannical and dire ways.
So Act Locally
Arkansas recently felt first-hand the pains that an oil spill brings upon communities, surrounding land, wildlife and water. The Exxon Pegasus spill in Mayflower just over a month ago is far from a memory. A spill like this is largely unknown territory, and Exxon has been very slow with its dirty details. What burst forth wasn’t your typical crude oil; rather, it was “dilbit” (diluted bitumen) that comes from Canada. In order to dilute that bitumen a lot of nasty chemicals are used and Exxon has worked hard to avoid listing what they are. The implications on health and ecosystems are bad news.
On the frontlines here in Arkansas, April Lane is working to bring attention of the implications to the affected communities but also around the state. Her work as part of the Faulkner County Citizen Advisory Group is filling in gaps in air-testing for Mayflower. Their more thorough samplings, compared to what Exxon has conducted, are providing insights into the potential of chronic long term illnesses. She will talk about this and work to disperse this knowledge to the citizens, and also the greater education happening organically throughout the community.
Don’t Forget to Think Globally
Bill McKibbon is a well-known environmental activist and educator. A popular author, he has written some of the seminal books on climate disaster. In the course of his 25+ years tackling this, he has seen the front-lines change often. The fruits in working towards mass action to address have been way too slow, and we now find ourselves in the midst of climate change actively occurring. Bill, and his organization 350.org, have adjusted strategy and are now working to confront the fossil fuels industry head on. They, along with many other concerned organizations, have been building local chapters in recent years that now have real presence.
Bill did a speaking tour of U.S. cities last fall titled ‘Do The Math’ and not only did it draw big crowds night after night but it also got recorded. It is now a 50-minute documentary and we’re proud to be showing it Sunday alongside April’s talk. A big part of the tour message was educating crowds on the succinct science behind climate change. Bill lucidly laid these numbers out in a Rolling Stone piece last summer — Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math — that went viral. It is essential reading. You will have an appreciation not only for the math after seeing the documentary but also the growing movement to address climate change.
Bill and 350.org have other tactics under way. A big one is divestment of fossil fuels stocks. This is a campaign happening especially across college campuses across the country — students letting their schools know that it is wrong to profit from wrecking the atmosphere and demanding that their schools divest of fossil fuel stocks. It is now occurring at the city-level too, towns like Madison, Wis., Santa Fe, N.M., Ithaca, N.Y. have all divested. This presents more opportunity for our community — both to grow the divestment movement on the UA campus but also explore divesting in Fayetteville.
Sunday, May 5 proves to be very educational and hopefully inspiring. April Lane’s talk and ‘Do The Math’ documentary will occur from 1:30-3:30.