For most of its history, Grist has gone by the tagline “A beacon in the smog.” This week, after watching a racist, misogynist, proudly abusive, authoritarian climate denier claim the U.S. presidency, that smog seems thicker than ever.
People of color, Muslims, immigrants, women, Jews, LGBTQ people, and many others are feeling justifiably terrified for their rights and their safety and their lives right now. It’s a dark time, and ensuring the basic civil and human rights of everyone in this country and around the world should be our first concern.
From the standpoint of environmental rights, things don’t look so hot, either — or rather, they look far too hot. The United States will now be the only major nation on Earth led by someone who rejects climate science. It would be bad enough if Donald Trump were planning to do nothing but sit back and watch the world burn. Instead, he’ll toss gasoline on the fire and cripple the bucket brigade.
This is not about the planet. This is about people. People will be hurt because of this. People will die because of this. No hyperbole.
Trump has promised to gut the environmental protections that seek to ensure clean air and clean water. He’s certain to roll back the admittedly slow and inadequate progress we’ve made on environmental justice. The federal courts will be stacked with judges more likely to rule against people seeking protection from pollution. His Cabinet appointees are going to try to give away vast tracts of federal land and open up the rest for unchecked oil and gas drilling. He’s pledged to resuscitate the coal industry, which will cost lives without saving jobs. It’s notable that the only stocks that soared on news of a Trump win were coal companies and private prisons.
This is the reality we face: A demagogue who has pledged to actively trash our shared environment, oppress our people, shatter our communities, trample our rights, and accelerate the worst existential crisis facing humanity is going to be the leader of the free world. If we can even call ourselves that anymore when he’s through.
Like I said, smog.
So what are we going to do about it?
At Grist, there is no question. We will fight harder. We will shine our beacon brighter. We will recommit ourselves to seeking solutions and creating tools to inform, enlighten, and persuade. We will reach new audiences, bridge divides, bring bright minds together for a common cause. As environmental journalists, we will center our work within the larger struggle for social justice and human rights. As an organization striving toward a sustainable world for everyone, we will tell the stories of clean energy, sustainable food, livable communities, environmental justice, and a better economy for all. We will use science and reason to guide us. And we will uncover and expose those who stand in the way.
Yes, things are bad, but there are legitimate reasons for hope out there: at the local and state level, in the cleantech sector, overseas, and, most of all, in the activists, entrepreneurs, political leaders, artists, community members, and people like you who won’t give up, who will keep fighting. Our reporting and storytelling and community-building skills are needed more than ever. So just like many of you, we’re going to get to work.
It will not be easy. But nothing good and right ever is.