Our. House. Is. On. Fire. Let’s go put it out.
Environmental and social justice organizations and their members gathered in Fargo(N.D.)-Moorhead(Minn.) to strike, march and rally for critically needed action on global warming and climate change. #FMClimateStrike21 was one of more than 1,000 events spearheaded by Fridays For Future on Sept. 24, 2021.
Martin C. Fredricks IV, founder of Knights of the Climate Covenant, was the event’s emcee and one of the speakers. The following is the script for the speech, which he more or less followed. It’s broken into three parts:
Welcome to event
Introduction to the event (following safety briefing)
The march started at Island Park in Fargo, N.D., followed Broadway to the north and took a right (east) to Fargo City Hall which, for the purposes of the strike, march and rally, represented government at every level.
#FMClimateStrike21 Speech, Part I
Good afternoon, everyone!
My name is Martin C. Fredricks IV. I’m the founder of the 4-Words blog (that’s the Roman numeral four plus words) and Knights of the Climate Covenant, which is a , nonprofit, nonviolent environmental advocacy and climate activist-building organization. I’m also a member of the Citizens Local Energy Action Network, or CLEAN, and Sierra Club Dacotah Chapter.
There are a few announcements before we get started today.
Everyone is welcome here, regardless of disability, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, religion, sexual preferences or orientation. Global warming is a HUMAN problem, and we’re all humans.
Next, this event is in conjunction with a worldwide strike being spearheaded by Fridays For Future, a group you might have heard of. If you haven’t, then surely you’ve heard of the young woman who inspired it – Greta Thunberg. The #FMClimateStrike is one of more than 1,000 events happening right now around the globe!
Given that this is a Fridays For Future-inspired event, it’s appropriate that we adhere to the organization’s “Strike Culture.”
- No violence
- No property damage
- No littering
- No profit
- No hate
- Minimize your carbon footprint
- Always refer to science
#FMClimateStrike21 Speech, Part II
Everyone, I’ll give it to you in my best Sunday-go-to-meetin’ preacher language:
We are gathered here today…
Because OUR PLANET IS LITERALLLY BEING DESTROYED.
Earth is our only home.
Greed is killing it.
Let me say that again.
Earth is our only home.
Greed is killing it.
People who care more about profit and prestige are dumping millions and millions of metric tons of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane into our atmosphere at an alarming rate. And I don’t need to tell you what that’s doing to our future.
That’s why I’m here today.
Actually, I’m here today for three reasons: my daughter, my son and my daughter.
Like many of you here today, they’ll be dealing with the mess my generation and generations before mine created and so far have refused to clean up in any substantive, meaningful way that will avert climate disaster.
Two of my kids have already told me they don’t plan to have children because they don’t want to bring any more people into a world that is, quite literally, burning.
Young people shouldn’t have to think this way, but today’s young people are forced to, anyway.
I’m sure each of you has your own personal reason for being here today. Shout some of them out….
That’s awesome. Thank you.
To paraphrase what my friend Tracey L. Wilkie said in a press release that we sent out this morning, “It’s your lives we’re talking about.” YOU are the future. YOU are the ones who have the most to lose and the most to fight for. This is YOUR march!
Now let’s go force some change!
#FMClimateStrike21 Speech, Part III
I said at Island Park that I’m here for three reasons. My kids.
Now I’m going to add two more.
Number 1, we’re running out of time.
And Number 2, there’s still time left.
First the time shortage.
Scientists have been telling us for decades that global warming was happening and that there would be serious consequences if we didn’t move away from a fossil-fuel-driven existence.
Nevertheless, people do disagree with the scientists, especially about what they’ve been telling us would happen regarding the climate, which is now happening.
Greta Thunberg, the founder and inspiration for Fridays For Future, has repeatedly that what we need to do is listen to the scientists. She’s also said, over and over again to world leaders, that our house is on fire and we act that way.
This is a crisis of an existential nature. People around the world are already dying due to the impacts of global warming and resulting climate change. Entire communities are being destroyed in hours, like Lytton in British Columbia, Canada, which burned to the ground in the midst of the massive heat wave and wildfires this past summer. Speaking of which, we’ve seen deadly fires in Australia, in the Amazon and on the western coast of North America. We’ve watched as flooding has killed people and destroyed communities in western Europe. We’ve seen unusually harsh tsunamis and hurricanes wreak havoc in Asia and right here in the United States.
My desires for government action:
I’d like the cities of Fargo and Moorhead, and every other city in the world, for that matter, to adopt climate emergencies. This is important because it entails a change of mindset from one of incremental, piecemeal action and change to more urgent and systemic action and change.
I’d like the cities of Fargo and Moorhead to adopt resolutions supporting water protectors who are putting their freedom and wellbeing on the line every single day fighting against the construction of Line 3 in Minnesota, a pipeline that will deliver the dirtiest oil on the planet to refineries in the southern United States. Every drop of that oil that gets burned is going to negatively impact our chances for a healthy and even livable future.
I’d like the governor of Minnesota to put a stop to Line 3, which he has the power to do but won’t.
I’d like the state of North Dakota to stop putting taxpayer money into untested technologies like large-scale carbon sequestration, which has never been done successfully on the scale for which it’s being proposed with Project Tundra. To me, it’s just kicking the can further down the road and to the future, where these young people will, once again, need to deal with the mess of previous generations.
And I’d like to see all world leaders to start truly working together to do things that can save the human race.
Unfortunately, there are bad actors everywhere, and in this country they’re in both major political parties. Democrats… well, take a look at Joe Manchin from West Virginia and how he is holding up meaningful climate legislation in the U.S. Congress. He’s an oil company owner, for cryin’ out loud.
Closer to home, one major party wants to keep digging coal and pumping oil no matter what. The official platform of the other still endorses “All-of-the-above” energy policy.
That’s political speak for keep digging up coal and keep the oil flowing. It’s DIG-BABY-DIG and BURN-BABY-BURN prettied up for the masses.
For too many people, nature, the environment and even people – they treat them as resources to be exploited.
One Republican, speaking to a North Dakota legislative committee about filthy lignite coal in the state, said this:
“What can we do as a state to ensure we do not leave 800 years of coal in the ground or leave one of the top 10 oil fields in the world undercapitalized and underdeveloped?”
I’ll tell you what you can do. YOU CAN LEAVE IT IN THE GROUND!
The fact – THE FACT – is we don’t even have 10 years left to make drastic changes.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which is a group of SCIENTISTS from all over the world, has warned that we now have less than a decade to move away from fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions before the planet reaches tipping points that will become self-feeding and grow exponentially.
And you know what they say…
“If you are not a scientist and you disagree with scientists about science, it’s actually not a disagreement. You’re just wrong.”*
In a sense, what these scientists are telling us is that the quote-unquote “natural disasters” we’re seeing right now will seem like kiddie carnival rides compared to the runaway train that’s coming if we don’t change RIGHT NOW!
This is where “there’s still time left” comes in.
We need to LEAVE FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND.
We need to END FOSSIL FUELS NOW!
We need to BUILD BACK BETTER!
Even as we work on that, we desperately need to address all the other issues of inequity, like poverty, lack of housing, lack of food or water, racism, sexism, and on and on in a spirit of intersectional environmentalism that keeps underprivileged and underserved people from being left behind as we move our society forward.
Thank you all for coming out today and thank you to all the people and organizations that committed time and resources to making this strike and march possible. They include:
- Citizens Local Energy Action Network, or CLEAN, and especially Paul Jensen and Ed Gruchalla
- Dakota Resource Council, and especially Sam Wagner
- FM Water Protectors
- Honor the Earth
- Knights of the Climate Covenant
- N.D. Nonpartisan League
- Red River Marshals
Please forgive me if I’ve left anyone out.
Join these groups.
Work with them.
Give them your support.
It’s one more way THAT YOU, personally, can keep your climate covenant, your promise to yourself, your families and your neighbors to do whatever you can to curb climate change and fight climate-change denial.
To wrap up, I’d like to give you my final reason for being here today.
It’s one simple word: HOPE.
I look around here, at all of you. Today YOU SHOWED UP!
And you keep showing up in solidarity, making your voices heard and fighting the good fight. As long as we do that, as long as we keep pushing so-called leaders to actually lead, and as long as we remain committed to spreading the word to our friends and neighbors, I have hope for the future.
Because the fact is, we don’t have any time to waste.
OUR. HOUSE. IS. ON. FIRE.
Let’s go put it out!
* Author unknown. Taken from a social media meme.
Featured image by Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum