May 1, 2016

Why I Fight For Climate Justice

849 Government Deregulation of Mountaintop RemovalThere are many reasons why folks from all over the world fight for climate justice, from warming oceans and polluted skies to rain forest destruction and species endangerment. Some people fight for causes that are near and dear to them while others fear for global destruction and the end of our modern way of life.

For me, residing in the bountiful hillscapes of Kentucky, my personal plight is that of mountaintop removal and the destructive effects of coal. Growing up in Kentucky, it is easy to have a positive view of the coal mining industry: they provide over 90% of our electricity costs (at a very cheap rate), are a large revenue source for the state and have supposedly facilitated the creation of countless jobs to procure, process and utilize the Black Gold.

It was not until I was in high school that I had a chance to venture out into eastern Kentucky and see that strip mining methods had laid waste to tens of thousands of acres of serene forests and mountaintops.

Nearly as worse as the immediate and discernible detriments that strip mining had on the sites itself were the effects that plagued the surrounding environment and the people that lived there. As I got older, I listened to stories told by concerned individuals traveling to spread awareness or those blasting social media for help fighting the government’s support of the coal industry. The harm brought to communities through increasing water contamination by selenium deposits and coal slurry, soil erosion weakening the top soil and increasing the threat of landslides and dust suppression draining water sources vital to the local agricultural industries and communities.

When I got to college and began to take action in my environmental groups I discovered that while the population in these areas have a tendency to advocate for the coal industry, their livelihoods are been wrecked by this practice. Reports of the high rates of black lung, childhood asthma, cardiovascular disease and mental disease are linked to nearby coal mining. Due to government appropriations and state and federal abuse of this region there was also a system of poor education, nutrition and opportunity propagating in this environment.

Not only did the government allow this region to fill the electrical coffers for the rest of the country, they have purposefully kept these people in a state of coal fanaticism, preferring to stand by their oppressors rather than rise up and overthrow them for fear from the lack of job opportunity and economic development in the region. Many of the students that I have met from eastern Kentucky coal communities have told me that they were woefully unprepared for college curricula and were all too poor to be able to pay for college without government support.

This and many other reason directly and indirectly connected to my life have prompted me to take action for climate justice as well as to move my life into the political sphere, hoping to counteract some of these terrible economic and environmental decisions wrought by Kentucky’s General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. I am proud to say that I am motivated to seek political office because of my love for my fellow Kentuckians and Earthlings, making sure that tomorrow will be a brighter and more sustainable day rather than searching for political power, influence or greed.

Through my work at Murray State University as well as my role as west Kentucky delegate for the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition I have tried to promulgate the love and need for environmental reform at the national level and to fight U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s (KY-R) rampant move for the expansion and deregulation of the coal industry in Appalachia. As a member of the Sierra Club and the Earth Guardians I have broadened my ability to communicate on a national level the need for saving our environment and have signed countless petitions and gone to rallies/protests to support the fight for our planet and the animals that live on it.

My mission is to inspire others to take up the mantle and to live sustainable and holistic lives, challenge the status quo of apathy spread by our government and to engender a more respectful attitude for our Earth in ourselves and in future generations to come.