September 14, 2021
American climate advocates Bill Moyer, Michael Foster, Aji Piper, and Abby Brockway shared inspiring and poignant stories of their climate activism, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future.
“We’re at the precipice, a moment of truth. It seems like we continue to be at that. To me, there’s no time for despair though, and we owe it to our children and our ancestors and our future generations to make a difference—to do everything we possibly can at this moment” Moyer said when asked how he will describe the fight for energy transition and sustainability.
Moyer is the executive director and co-founder of the activism organization Backbone Campaign, which provides creative strategies and artful action support, and convenes training opportunities for change agents across the United States.
“The positive thing is that you and I are talking to each other—all of us are together – because this has to be a global movement. And it seems to me that, as we find the most despairing news, we can also see the most beautiful blooming of movements and of communities.” Moyer said.
Agreeing with Moyer’s assessment that humanity is at a pivotal moment, Foster noted that “we are 20 years too late” in terms of moving away from the current extractive and unsustainable paradigm.
Foster is a Climate Reality Leader and the founder of 350 Seattle, a grassroots non-profit organization pushing for climate action and ecological justice. He coordinated the youth and families of the lawsuit Foster v. Ecology, which asked the court in 2014 to force the Washington Department of Ecology to consider a petition to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
“Hope appears when there is action. When you’re in a burning house, it’s not about whether you’re hopeful, it’s about whether you’re moving,” Foster said as he emphasized the need for climate advocates but to keep moving forward.
Piper, who started his climate activism at the age of 12, is one of the 21 plaintiffs in a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit against the US Federal Government. He underscored the importance of being relentless in promoting climate solutions and educating more people about the prevailing climate and environmental crises.
He recalled a particular moment during the deposition process for the youth-driven climate lawsuit, when the lawyers for the US government argued, “If the federal government acquiesce with a plea in this case and the next day we turn around—and as a country, we will no longer produce fossil fuel emissions but the rest of the world continues on the pathway to destruction, will we have remedied your case?”
Piper said that the question almost convinced him that the lawsuit and the other efforts they are doing are futile. But he soon realized that moving in the right direction—albeit at an incremental pace—will always be a positive development.
“I remembered that what we’re suing for is not for climate change to stop but for our government to stop violating our rights by causing climate change,” Piper recalled. “In the process of that, even if climate change as a whole isn’t solved—even if the rest of the world isn’t doing any better, our life becomes better because we are moving in the right direction,” he said.
Inspiration from a Filipino climate activist
Brockway, meanwhile, shared how Filipino climate activist Yeb Saño has inspired her climate activism, particularly the time she protested against oil and coal shipments in 2014 in Everett, Washington.
Together with other activists (collectively they are known as the Delta 5), Brockway was arrested and stood trial for erecting a human blockade to prevent a mile-long train from traveling through Washington’s cities and towns.
“There was a bunch of evidence [during the Delta 5 case] admitted into trial and one of them that they took from the scene is a bear claw. It’s like an arm cast and you actually lock your arms in it. I have two messages on it. One is a message from my daughter telling me that I was a good mother and how much she loved me. And another one is a message about Yeb Saño. He was the negotiator of the Philippines during the talks when Typhoon Haiyan happened just less than a year before that, ” Brockway narrated.
According to Brockway, Saño’s emotional appeal during the United Nations climate change negotiations in Poland and his decision to fast for two weeks after super-typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines inspired her and her fellow activists tremendously.
“It was really in our minds. That bravery of Yeb Saño was huge for me. So I wanted that message to be on that—for that interconnectedness, that bravery, and that power to stand up and do something risky,” Brockway said as she highlights how one’s actions could inspire a movement.
Show, don’t tell
Moyer emphasized that climate advocates could not let their fears rule their children’s lives and stifle their imaginations. “I try not to scare my daughter away from activism, to not force people into something, to allow people to be their genius self and not let our fears impede their creativity,” he said.
“Let them have the liberty to be the genius problem-solvers that they have the capacity to be and don’t paralyze them. Love their brilliance, celebrate their ideas, talk less, and listen more. Show, don’t tell,” Moyer said on how to inspire their kids, as well other parents to join the climate movement.
The Race To Save The World
Moyer, Foster, Piper, and Brockway are some of the activists featured in Emmy-award filmmaker Joe Gantz’ documentary “The Race to Save the World,” which tells the stories of courageous people who are willing to put their lives on the line to campaign for a clean energy future.
A special screening of the film is hosted by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to help raise funds for the installation of solar panels in Pangan-an Elementary & High School, which is now facing challenges after their costly, noisy, and pollutant power generators have stopped being functional.
Tickets are available at tinyurl.com/RtStWPh until September 20 only.
For non-credit card payment options, tickets may be purchased through PAYMAYA [Ma. Dianna Benaya, 0917 3064229], GCASH [Jacqueline Tumaliuan-Gutierrez, 0917 8864113], Bank Transfer [Account NAME: Green Renewable Independent Power Producer GRIPP Inc, BDO Peso Account: #003640094322]. Purchase must be registered at https://tinyurl.com/RtStWTickets. You will receive a coupon code via your registered email address within 24 hours after you register your purchase.