I had an opportunity to speak with the parents of a young activist, Ezra Kone, who was arrested along with 38 protesters at the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday morning.
Ezra’s parents were at the Denver Detention Center the next day and though ready to post bail, they could not get direct answers about what was required to do so.
Ezra’s parents said they were incredibly proud of him but also greatly saddened by the fact that he was having to do these things in order to bring attention to the climate crisis.
The reality is that we all have to do these things in order to confront the climate emergency.
I have dual American and Australian citizenship, and the current fires in Australia are a devastating, ongoing tragedy for my husband’s family. These past few months have been apocalyptic. Fires that travel in the air rather than on the ground, koalas dying by the tens of thousands, people wading into any body of water they can find to seek protection; this is the new reality.
What is required is a political transformation. Incremental change is no longer tolerable. President Trump could not be less interested and the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, claims that Australia is ahead of its climate goals and that emissions in the U.S. are going down.
When pressed about whether a “recalibration” is needed in light of the fires, Morrison insists that no, none is required.
Scientists have agreed that the choices we make this decade will be critical to the future of our planet. Activists and scientists understand the urgency needed for climate change action.
It’s not just the heads of countries who are causing the problems. State representatives and governors in every state are perpetuating a false narrative that incremental change is acceptable.
Gov. Jared Polis has failed to seriously address environmental issues in Colorado. Rulemaking is virtually non-existent, and thousands of drill operations have been permitted since the law was passed last year.
While Polis advocated for clean energy changes in his State of the State speech, he has continued to vote against policies that would help make that a possibility, much less a reality.
Along with the three other Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidates in 2018, Polis opposed Proposition 112, a ballot initiative that would have prohibited oil and gas wells within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, hospitals and water. The then-candidates couldn’t bring themselves to vote to keep fracking out of backyards.
If Polis had supported Prop. 112, it likely would have passed. Now a new slate of ballot initiatives, spearheaded by Colorado Rising, are coming. Public perception about the climate emergency has changed in the past three years and they will likely get much more attention this time around.
On a national level, our president refuses to take action on climate change. So who is going to do it? It is the activists, like 350 and Sunrise and Extinction Rebellion, who are stepping in. It’s people like Ezra Kone.
We need people in office who stand with activists who support the fight for the planet and for climate justice. But they are not going to just miraculously arrive in office. One reason that I joined the U.S. Senate race is so that I could support the citizen-led ballot initiatives that others seem unwilling to consider.
I do all I can to take a strong stance on environmental issues and fight for a climate of justice every day. I will also continue to support climate change activist groups, others who are willing to strive for a more equitable and just world and those that are disrupting the status quo. We cannot continue to be silent on this subject. The youth are standing up and it is time for more disruptors to step in.
Dr. Diana Bray is a clinical psychologist, mom and climate activist who is running for U.S. Senate.