Sunday, June 16, 2024

Though the climate crisis hasn’t yet made the entire planet unlivable, it already is creating tremendous suffering and hardship, especially for marginalized people. I realized how truly problematic this was when I saw it locally: I noticed the amount of pollution the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was producing and how it hurt low-income communities nearby.

Now, as I finish my junior year of high school, I understand that climate change is a worldwide crisis. Understanding just how monumental the climate crisis is can be paralyzing. After all, how can anyone truly work to alter the collision course we’re on when the problem is so huge and multifaceted?

But that fear obscures the truth of our own power. Movements aren’t built from the top down, and some of the biggest changes in our country’s history have started with grassroots activism growing town by town, city by city, state by state. Local climate action is absolutely crucial, not just for building sustainable, resilient communities, but to create blueprints and movements for larger-scale shifts.

I joined the Sunrise Movement (a youth climate movement) because I believe in the importance of tackling climate change on a local level. Right now in Cambridge, we have the opportunity to do just that. We must call upon our leaders to hold accountable the numerous bad actors generating massive amounts of emissions daily, and we must turn away from an unjust economy based on infinite growth and toward an ecological, livable, people-centered future. I know that future is attainable when we come together to fight for it.

This is why we need and demand a Green New Deal for Cambridge. When I first moved to Cambridge from Florida, I was struck by Cambridge’s more proactive stance on climate change and renewable resources. In Florida people rarely thought about these issues, and recycling was almost unheard of. Since I’ve lived here, I’ve seen how the city splits its waste into trash, recycling and compost – a great example of how even individual waste distribution is seen as an opportunity to replenish the city without the use of nonrenewable resources. By implementing a Green New Deal for Cambridge, we can build off this commitment to sustainability and activism and start to hold some of these powerful conglomerates and institutions accountable. Our actions right now, right here, can be part of a brighter future for the country and the world.

Alim Dixon, Gorham Street