Seeing is believing. If you want your message to be heard, you have to put it out there for all to see; and if you’re not being heard enough, be louder.
Maybe it’s harder to see what’s in front of you when the air you’re surrounded by is filled with pollutants. Pictured above are the efforts of people who are determined to be heard, and whose messages are in your best interest to hear out and care about.
The first image above pictures a message sent out by eight Greenpeace activists in Chicago’s own Pilsen neighborhood. Painted last week on 25 May on a 450 foot smokestack, “QUIT COAL” is their proclamation to the Fisk Generating Station (as well as the Crawford Generating Station in the Little Village neighborhood), a coal-fired power plant not covered by current Clean Air Act emission standards.
On the day previous, 24 May, eight different Greenpeace activists rappelled off a bridge at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Their hanging bodies prevented a coal barge from passing.
All sixteen men and women were arrested.
The second photo is an advertisement for NRDC, a not-for-profit dedicated to safeguarding the earth’s natural systems. “Air pollution kills 60,000 people a year,” the ad states, ostensibly comparing air pollution to a fatal weapon in its bold and effective imagery that utilizes a building’s smokestack as the barrel of a gun.
The imagery is intense and provocative, but not so far off. According to crime statistics from the NationMaster website, roughly 100,000 people in the world are murdered by firearms annually; over 9,000 of those murders take place in the United States. And as it is recorded in a truth-telling study published by the ELPC on the Fisk and Crawford coal plants as mentioned above, the excess release of particulate matter into the atmosphere by coal plant emissions has extreme detrimental effects on the health of surrounding communities (human and natural). “The health- and environmental-related damages from these coal plants cost the public in excess of $127 million per year… The Illinois agreement sets January 1, 2019 – over 12 years after it was announced [and with 8 years’ leeway from now] – as the deadline for Midwest Generation to reduce its SO2 emissions.” The U.S. EPA estimates that by 2014, if these emissions are reduced and the coal plants begin to “QUIT COAL” so to speak, there would be
• 14,000 to 36,000 less premature deaths,
• 21,000 less cases of acute bronchitis,
• 23,000 less nonfatal heart attacks,
• 26,000 less hospital and ER visits,
• 1.9 million less days when people miss work or school,
• 240,000 less cases of aggravated asthma, and
• 440,000 less cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms.
If seeing is believing, then certainly the act of doing is believing in something.
These recent uprisings by Greenpeace activists who, yes, may be a bit crazy to choose to get thrown in jail and, yes, may be a bit fanatical in affirming their fervent beliefs… are examples of direct non-violent action that, even modestly, make a difference in protecting the earth and the futures of all its inhabitants. And I’d like to argue that it’s better to be arrested for defending a just cause than for adding to the statistics of annual firearm homicides.
-For more on direct environmental activism, I recommend watching the controversial film by Derrick Jensen, END:CIV. On 1 May, in honor of May Day and to maximize its outreach, the movie was put online for the public’s free viewing pleasure.
-The NRDC’s website also features a page where you can Take Action Now on threatening environmental issues by signing your name and submitting letters which urge positive change to various officials.
-Greenpeace also offers the public a forum in which they can Take Action, by signing your name on a message to Edison International telling them to shut down Chicago’s Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants by 2013.
I’ll blog at a future date on what I think about these online “action” sites on which internet surfers can make a difference by writing their name and clicking a button.