Orange Skies and Orange Lies

By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–

So surely you’ve seen it. Over the past week, mainstream news channels have been filled with images of wildfires ravaging the west coast of the United States, the smoke ash so thick that the sunlight trying to shine through the clouds emitted only an eery orange hue that encompassed the world below. I simply couldn’t believe my eyes when a picture came across my Twitter feed of an Oakland Athletics baseball game under those same orange skies, hallmarked by cardboard cutouts of “fans” filling the seats below. The image itself seemed like something straight out a horror movie or an other-worldly apocalypse. Or as the Twitter user put it: a dystopian hellscape.

While right-wing politicians, including President Trump, continue to deny the immediate threat and long-term impact of climate change on our country and world, our land is burning, people are losing their homes and/or their belongings, and others are dying. Additionally, other countries are looking down upon the United States as we refrain from committing to environmentally-conscious policies on an international level.

What brings me hope, however, are movements like the youth-led Sunrise Movement, which works through non-violent, education-driven action to inform communities across the country about the necessity of stopping climate change while simultaneously holding elected officials accountable to preserving our planet for generations to come. In fact, a Chattanooga chapter of Sunrise just began to take root and work towards change in our own city and beyond.

It is imperative that we understand that climate change is real, and it is absolutely necessary that we don’t continue to lie to ourselves and each other in promising our world as livable for generations to come without making substantive changes NOW.

Speaking of lies.

While California, Oregon, and Washington are burning, President Trump continues to deny the veracity of actual recordings of himself telling esteemed journalist Bob Woodward (remember Watergate?) that he knew of the threats that the Coronavirus posed to the American people/national security and lied to the public about them. His Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shamelessly defends his lies at the White House Press Conferences, and his allies like RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel appear on shows like Meet the Press and lie to the American public about the lies Trump told. They refuse to be courageous in such crucial moments; they’re cowards.

Where do the lies end? Which Republican will finally step up in the name of honor and dignity and admit that the President lied and failed the American people, in turn resulting in the deaths of nearly 200,000 people? Who of Trump’s allies will put aside their own political gain to call upon the President to resign?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these questions, nor do I foresee the answers making themselves apparent in the near future. But I believe history’s dark shadow will be cast upon those who put party over country in these moments, and moreover, upon those who put themselves over party. But history will also look poorly upon those of us who do not do what we can to ameliorate our country and our world while we’ve had the chance, so we shouldn’t let seemingly-small opportunities pass us by.

So, here are a few things we can do each day to positively impact our national and global communities:

  1. Eat more meat-free meals
  2. Lessen food waste
  3. Thrift shopping/recycling and upcycling goods (this lessens production and the negative effects that go with it!)
  4. Eliminate plastics whenever possible
  5. Air-dry clothes
  6. Turn off lights and power sources when they aren’t in use
  7. Try not to overdo the heating/cooling of indoor environments
  8. Don’t idle!
  9. Swap old incandescent light bulbs for the new compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)

We all want blue skies again. So vote blue like your life depends on it. Because it just may.

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