Our Climate assembles climate mosaic to push price on pollution
On June 22nd, before the dome of the Massachusetts State House, a group of youth activists with Our Climate, a youth-led carbon pricing advocacy organization in the United States, assembled their largest climate mosaic yet. The 108 ft long right whale and her calf contained 1,201 recycled cardboard tiles painted by hundreds of young people from across Massachusetts and from as far away as Kentucky, Alabama, Arizona, and New Delhi, India. As several of the youth speakers at the event explained, right whales are the canaries in the climate coal mine, a symbolic rallying point for the passage of science-based climate policy like carbon pricing.
“The total population of right whales has decreased to only four hundred and eleven individuals, as these majestic creatures change their migration patterns and get struck to death by ships they used to avoid,” said Isabelle Goodrich, a 15-year-old budding marine scientist and a Field Representative with Our Climate, to a crowd of onlookers. “But we are here to examine our tenuous relationship with the natural world and realize that the conservation of whales and the conservation of the human race in the face of the most extreme disaster in human history are one in the same.”
Our Climate, a CPLC partner, has been organizing several climate mosaics as a part of carbon pricing lobbying days at US state capitols. The mosaics provide a way to bring young people together through art, expression, and the common goal of advocating for an ambitious price on carbon pollution. Young advocates like Goodrich and I have decided to focus on state policies because of their potential to lead the nation toward meaningful climate solutions. A few days before constructing the mosaic, my peers and I presented to a briefing room full of legislators and their aides on behalf of H.2810, a carbon pricing bill which has already been cosponsored by 95 Representatives in the Massachusetts House—14 more than a majority.
However, before coming to a vote, the bill must first receive a public hearing and pass through committee. The mother whale and calf, affectionately named Karou and Timmy, were Our Climate’s most public call to committee leadership to schedule the hearing and let the bill proceed to the floor. The project earned coverage from Boston’s NPR affiliate WBUR.
In the coming weeks, we activists plan to sit down with legislators and share tiles painted by youth in their district. The art will serve as an entry point to discuss the important, technical details of the bill that protect low-income people, small businesses, and other vulnerable groups. For instance, H.2810 returns 70% of the carbon revenues to families weighted by income, ensuring lower and middle-class individuals actually net a financial gain. The remaining 30% of the money is put into a Green Infrastructure Fund, which includes preferential access for historically marginalized communities.
I helped organize this event because I believe my home state of Massachusetts should take the first bold steps in climate action by passing H2810. By the time we are projected to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, I will only be 30—the same age my mother was when I was born—and will face a world wrecked with catastrophic flooding, unpredictable crop yields, and widespread extinction events if we don’t take action now. As it led the American Revolution, it’s only fitting that Massachusetts should also lead to the green revolution that we so desperately need.
About the Author
Nicholas O’Toole is a rising junior at New York University studying social and public policy and Chinese language. Through championing carbon pricing in Massachusetts with Our Climate, he hopes to begin a broader political conversation about what policies can lead to a sustainable and socially just society.
The opinions of this partner blog are attributable solely to the author.