This message sent out by Greenpeace (USA) Executive Director, Annie Leonard, spells out the extent of the disaster brought about by Hurricane Harvey (cyclone) and the impact that this has had on many people caught up in its fury. Australians are also familiar with what nature can dish out and the realisation that as and severe. Hearts go out to all those who are suffering because of Harvey.
Overcrowded shelters. Thousands stranded by floodwaters. Hazardous chemicals released from Gulf Coast oil facilities — the list seems endless. Hurricane Harvey has affected tens of thousands of lives, and we’re only at the beginning of finding out the full impact.
Over the past few days, it has been inspiring to see the response by community members, first responders, and frontline organizations to Hurricane Harvey. If there is hope in this ongoing crisis, it’s in being reminded that in times of great challenge, communities across the nation can be depended upon to show up and help. We are all in this together — that’s why it is so critical for the Greenpeace family to stand with people facing the storm’s impacts.
The human impacts of Hurricane Harvey have been staggering, and our greatest concern is for the people struggling in its aftermath. Coastal Texas and the wider Gulf region are on the frontlines of sea level rise and extreme weather heightened by climate change, as well as the toxic threats posed by fossil fuel infrastructure. We know that climate change made Harvey more deadly. As global temperatures increase, sea level rise and extreme weather becomes an even bigger threat to communities at home and around the world.
Stopping the worst effects of climate change should be a top priority of the Trump administration. Instead, the administration refuses to even acknowledge the problem exists, is allowing more climate changing pollution, and is putting more communities in harm’s way.
Harvey shows that a policy of denial and willful ignorance results in structural injustice. Poorer communities and people of color often have less means to evacuate, live in neighborhoods with worse flooding4, live closer to damaged fossil fuel facilities releasing hazardous chemicals, and tend to have fewer resources for recovery, including backup housing and flood insurance.
Trump and his enablers must be held accountable for not only refusing to do the basics to stop climate change in the future, but also for refusing to protect coastal communities from the climate change-fueled disasters right now.
We must continue our fight against the fossil fuel industry and the climate change-denying Trump Administration. And we must push for a different future — one built on clean, renewable energy with safe secure jobs. It’s not just important, it’s imperative, for people and the planet.
For people affected by this disastrous storm, a long, hard road lies ahead. We have to start now to ensure an equitable recovery, one that brings relief and comfort to all.