by Mary Gutierrez

Climate Change, Global Warming; whatever term we choose to use, it important that we recognize that it is not just about one issue, it’s about many. It’s about social and environmental justice. It’s about human and nonhuman rights. Climate Change is a moral and ethical issue.

It is, as it should be, part of our very nature, to protect and help those we are unable to do so for their selves (a.k.a. climate/environmental justice). We as a nation have caused many of the issues associated with climate change. We need to claim and accept our responsibilities and take action. We have a moral and ethical obligation to do so. There are real consequences occurring because of how we have chosen to live our lives. That statement is not to insight guilt, but to remind us that there is real suffering occurring in other areas of the world and people are being impacted by our actions. Everything and everyone is connected.

We have an obligation to other human beings, other species, and to the Earth itself to change our actions so we can minimize, alleviate, and hopefully eliminate the worst of the effects of climate change. Globally, we have come to a resolution. The agreement was signed in Paris. We no longer need to wait for action; we can no longer afford to.

I was fortunate enough to have been part of a gulf south delegation that traveled to Paris for the U.N. Climate Change Conference. What an exhilarating, beautiful, depressing, and surreal experience. While in the delegation deliberations, I found myself asking, what have we done to others, the Earth, and ourselves? Have we reached the point of no return no matter what actions we take?  Honestly, I don’t know, but I don’t think so and I am optimistic that individually and collectively we can make significant changes. I do believe that this is just the beginning and road is long to get to where we need to be. However, I am ready and so is Gulf South Rising. It is the power of the people who will make the change.

So often in conversations around climate change communities of the gulf coast get overlooked, even in the U.S., because there is a misconception that we do not care about climate change or believe that it even exists. It was important for us, as Gulf South Rising, to be in Paris so that it would be known that there are people in the gulf coast that do care and do want a change. We wanted our voices heard and they were. We have a responsibility to advocate for and implement change; we have accepted these responsibilities and are ready for action.

We, the people of the Gulf South and the Global South, will no longer stand for being the sacrificial zone for industry, for oil and gas exploration and drilling, deepwell injection, fracking, or any other activities that impact the environment and our public health. We want renewable energy sources and other sustainable practices that reduce our carbon footprint. We can create a job market – a green job market – that supports this. We will no longer allow big industry dictate what we want. We will no longer allow local, state, and national “representatives” to silence our voices.

The seas are rising and so are we.

Mary Gutierrez

Executive Director

Earth Ethics, Inc.

Gulf South Rising Partner