This is not the new normal: On California's Wildfires and PG&E Power Shutoffs

by Mary Creasman

This is not the new normal: On California's Wildfires and PG&E Power Shutoffs

I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday with smoke choking me. Frantically, I jumped out of bed, searched for the fire, and called 911. It turns out I am one of the lucky ones, with the smoke coming from fires a few miles away.

In the midst of looming blackouts across Northern California and catastrophic wildfires impacting millions of Californians across the state, we know many of our members -- like you -- and our families are feeling heartbreak and fear.

From children dealing with asthma attacks to seniors worried about their ventilators going out while they’re asleep, to single mothers concerned about losing the few perishables they have, make no mistake: this is our climate crisis happening right now, and we must come together to support one another and find a way forward.

As severe as the current conditions are, we know working class, Black, Indigenous, and communities of color have been suffering for generations from the worst impacts of climate change. This is not new for so many of our communities. It’s why we are fighting so hard for a clean energy future.

This reality doesn’t have to be our new normal. We have the solutions and the resources to transition away from burning fossil fuels, creating hotter and dryer conditions. We also know that we can mimic nature and better manage our landscapes and transition our infrastructure in our cities to be more resilient. What we need is the public outcry to spur the political will to ignite this massive scale transition. We can do better, and we must do better.

We believe in this fight to protect our loved ones and our future, and as one of hundreds of thousands of CLCV members, please join us in a new call to action:

1. Access resources: many of us are in the midst of this crisis today, and we want you to have access to all the resources available to you in this moment. We’ve listed some key ones here:

2. Find ways to help: This is a moment to tap into our common humanity and provide much needed support, so if you can, please consider donating to organizations that will support recovery efforts in Northern and Southern California. In crisis so often we see the best of each other as we come together, and that’s what we need right now.

3. Tell our leadership in Sacramento that we need action: we need a large-scale transition of our infrastructure, transportation, buildings and economy to prepare for our future. We know specifically what this must look like, now we need to send a loud message to Governor Newsom and our Legislature that we are behind them and expect them to be as bold as possible in this moment. This is the role of government in a crisis, and we need them to show visionary leadership.

4. Share your climate story: help us lift up your stories, images, and voices by sharing your story of how wildfires and the utility-directed shutoffs are impacting you right now. Storytelling is a powerful tool for change and advocacy. Help us share your stories and hold our leaders accountable to change. Here are some examples:

A Santa Rose home burns during the Kincaid Fire.

LA traffic rush continues as Getty Fire expands

In a crisis, we can buckle down in our own corners, or we can rise up and create a pathway forward together. This is a moment we must ground ourselves in our common humanity and believe that together we can change what’s possible. We have the solutions; we need the leadership for large-scale action.

Most importantly, we need to support one another in the fight for bold climate action. We cannot do this without you.

Let’s reject this new normal and create a mandate for a different future. Please join us.

Posted on October 29, 2019 in Groundswell Blog.

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