Three years ago, on April 20, 2010, Lennox Yearwood lost a dear friend and mentor, the civil rights leader and icon Dr. Dorothy Irene Height. At his speech this afternoon at our New York City Green Festival, Rev. Yearwood invoked his mentor’s legacy, and reminded us all that climate change is “not just a green issue, it’s a civil rights and human rights issue.” And in so reminding us, Yearwood pointed out that today is the anniversary not just of Dr. Height’s passing, but also of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill off the coast of Yearwood’s native Louisiana.
“Eleven men lost their lives in that explosion, and 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into our Gulf of Mexico,” said Yearwood. “Our struggle against dirty energy is not just about equality, it’s actually about existence. We’re working for a clean energy future so our children can live.”
Along with deepwater drilling, Yearwood took aim at mountaintop removal coal mining, fracking, and tar-sands pipelines — all energy projects that combine both climate-change threats and clean-air and -water threats to local communites, often lower-income communities or communities of color. Yearwood reserved his strongest exhortations for immediate opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, the public comment period for which will end this coming week.
“Our top scientists tell us Keystone XL is ‘game over’ for the climate,” said Yearwood, referring to NASA scientist James Hansen, an outspoken advocate of climate action and opponent of Keystone XL, who recently left his job at NASA to devote himself to activism full-time. Yearwood compared Hansen’s climate expertise and diagnosis of “no KXL” to a doctor telling insisting to a patient to give up salt or die. “He’s not just telling you that, he’s going to the salt factory and trying to shut it down, he’s chaining himself to the salt trucks to keep them from getting to you. That’s how serious this is!”
In response to the seriousness of the threat, Yearwood exhorted his audience to take action now. He specifically called out two action steps you can take today, and we’re pleased to repeate them here — and point you to Green America resources that can help.
1) Comment on KXL before it’s too late. — Find an action on Green America’s Web site to beat the Tuesday, April 22 deadline.
2) Join the climate divestment movement. — Find resources to take action from the Green American.