Dick Farnell, right, and Suzanne Cohen of environmental group 350Juneau hold signs outside the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation building during APFC’s Board of Directors quarterly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Dick Farnell, right, and Suzanne Cohen of environmental group 350Juneau hold signs outside the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation building during APFC’s Board of Directors quarterly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

“A tsunami looms across the horizon. That tsunami is the climate crisis.”

“Our leaders remind me of children building a sand castle on the beach.”

  • Monday, January 25, 2021 11:41am
  • Opinion

By Mike Tobin

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, at noon, 350Juneau-Climate Action for Alaska will launch weekly Climate Emergency events in front of the Capitol. Each week, we will focus on different aspects of “Stopping the Bad,” meaning stopping large fossil fuel projects that will commit Alaska to decades of spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, or “Upping the Good,” building Alaska’s renewable future beyond oil, promoting climate justice, and starting to repair from the damages of the fossil fuel era.

It is still a climate emergency! We continue to be astounded by the disconnect between, on the one hand, the near unanimous view of climate scientists, the United Nations, the governments of almost every country in the world, and our own experience of wildfire, smoke, failing fisheries, floods, hurricanes, permafrost melt, and village erosion — and on the other hand the climate denialism and near immobility of Alaskan political institutions.

Our leaders remind me of children building a sand castle on the beach. As the water sucks out of the bay, they squabble over plastic shovels and trucks. A tsunami looms across the horizon. That tsunami is the climate crisis.

The leaders of our increasingly pathetic petrocolony have recently taken to playing with the plastic shovel of “threatening” international banks who won’t invest in Arctic oil, and the plastic truck of bidding on oil leases that the oil majors won’t touch.

Our leaders double down on oil and gas just as renewables are becoming as cheap as fossil fuels for electricity generation, as the world is awash in cheap oil, and as the climate emergency accelerates.

Where is the legislation that will help construct a future beyond oil? A future of renewable energy and of repair to the damage the fossil fuel industry has done? The Legislature is just getting organized, and we will be glad to amplify any measure that is good for Alaska’s future, and the planet’s.

We will welcome the legislature at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 in front of the Capitol with the theme, “Welcome! Where are the Climate Bills?” Speakers from 350Juneau will explain the urgency of the climate crisis, its causes and some proposed solutions.

Theater Alaska will share performance pieces by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse, Hank Lentfer, and Connor Lendrum. Katasse will read his “The Place That Had Everything,” which speaks to how there should be a mutual balance between people and the environment. If there is an imbalance, “the environment pushes back,” says Katasse.

With his “Wilderness Singing” Lentfer creates a theater of sound that asks participants to listen to a smattering of sounds from the Tongass. His piece makes room for non-human voices, for the voices of wildlife in an industrial world.

In Theater Alaska’s final piece, Connor Lendrum, the son of a landscape architect and a horticulturist, shares a miraculous party scene in the near future where two friends are confronted by a surprise change in the climate. Theater Alaska member Christina Apathy facilitated the work of Lentfer and Lendrum.

Theater Alaska creates opportunities for under-served audiences in Juneau and around Alaska to attend live, professional theater. To increase accessibility, Theater Alaska brings free performances to venues such as community centers, schools, correctional facilities, or outdoor spaces, and assisted living centers.

Longtime Alaskan activist poet, Lin Davis, will present a new poem on the Arctic Refuge. She notes that Joy Harjo, United States Poet Laureate and a member of the Muscogee Nation, says “Poetry steadies us during times of transformation.”

Climate emergency events will continue each Friday at noon during session starting on Feb. 5 when Renewable Juneau will present on building renewable energy infrastructure in Juneau. Some topics coming up include youth and the climate crisis, subsistence and the climate crisis, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, divesting from fossil fuels, and what is extreme oil and why investing in big new fossil fuel projects is a bad idea for Alaska.

We will be COVID-safe, outdoors, with masking and social distancing. The events will be livestreamed on the 350Juneau Facebook page. Come on down with your mask or participate virtually! We hope to “see” you there!

• Mike Tobin is a member of 350Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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