The Age of Extinction

It’s 2018. We’ve seen enough extreme weather in just the last few years. But fundamentally changing the way our economy and society works to facilitate, you know, staying alive isn’t politically convenient. President Trump doesn’t believe the National Climate Assessment, which was released on Black Friday:

DAWSEY: You said yesterday when you were leaving that you were skeptical of a climate change report that the government had done. Can you just explain why you’re skeptical of that report?

TRUMP: One of the problems that a lot of people like myself — we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including — just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with.

Read that again. Oceans are small? Our air and water at a clean record? Almost 63 million people voted for this kind of nonsense.

Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke both said the report was a “worst-case scenario”. One of the authors of the report responded on Twitter. Apparently, sixteen hundred pages of hard science need to be reduced to tweetstorms.

We will not wake up from his nightmare. It is here. Our grandchildren will be dealing with this. We can only keep talking about this. This is an Independence Day-level event, the one where we all need to work together to save the planet. Instead of aliens, it’s the pesky side effects of our globalization.

There are two movements I’ve seen in the US and U.K., The Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. We need to disrupt the status quo.

Tongva Land

Last year for the holiday, Aruna D’Souza asked Twitter:

“Whose land are you feasting on this Thanksgiving?”

Using Native Land, a map project by Victor Temprano, we can discover more about the history of the Americas and Australia. I recall California’s 3rd grade curriculum which focused on Spanish mission history, but not the Tongva, the original inhabitants of the Los Angeles Basin and the Southern Channel Islands, or any other indigenous group living in what is now California.

The Tongva people have lived there for 7,000 years. Their history seems well-documented with 2,800 archeological sites, California and U.S. Federal records, and Catholic mission documents. Reading history gives us perspective, along with many other benefits.  Tongva history is rich with personalities and stories, like Toypurina, the medicine woman known for organizing a rebellion against the San Gabriel mission.

Spanish-American colonial history is dark. It’s probably obvious, even without reading into specifics, what happened when missionaries and settlers came in; they enslaved Tongva people, committed state-sponsored genocide, and allowed the theft and slavery of Indian children in the name of religion and civilization. It actually took the State of California until 1994 to recognize the Tongva in Assembly Joint Resolution 96.

We (non-Tongva) are the immigrants. We can’t rewrite history, but we can help stop Native erasure. We can celebrate today with family and friends and educate ourselves and others.  Perceptions are changing with each generation. Becoming more sensitive and aware of our history can help us into the uncertain future.

Happy Thanksgiving.