Tag Archives: Climate change

Sundown or Sunrise, Climate Change Waits for No One

As we look back on this past decade of rapid and polarizing social change in the USA, its end has been defined by political upheaval, the #MeToo reckoning, and climate change controversies. In spite of climate change deniers and the defanged EPA, we saw progress with respect to the climate crisis. Names like Greta Thunberg and Naomi Klein are recognizable but have you wondered why a Green New Deal is suddenly in demand?  

The Great Climate Awakening has been planned, organized, and executed by a diverse coalition that includes but is not limited to Extinction Rebellion, Sierra Club, 350, Mothers Out Front, and Greenpeace. But it has been the fastest growing and youngest group within this nonprofit network – Sunrise Movement — that has made the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.  A relatively decentralized army of high-schoolers, college students, and folks under 35 have undeniably transformed today’s political discourse by publicly demanding ambitious climate justice and environmental protection policy from elected officials and those running for office.

Sunrise created and championed the most recent iteration of the Green New Deal. GND has become part of the Democratic party platform and has been hotly debated during the primaries. Although the Green New Deal concept has been around since 2006, it was not until right after the 2018 midterms that the GND attained public awareness in its entirety. A large cohort of Sunrise volunteers organized a sit-in in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand a detailed ‘national, industrial, economic mobilization plan’ capable of making the U.S. economy carbon neutral. 

GND become a litmus test for Democrats and Republicans; the candidates and their supporters must reexamine their own convictions about the climate crisis and environmental devastation as they relate to corporate accountability, worker justice, racial justice, and a livable future for all. Nearly every single Democratic presidential candidate has pledged to it, and many dozens of governors, senators, and Congressmen have heeded the call to pledge their support or co-sponsorship.

This has been only one of many acts of rebellion that is attributed to the Sunrisers. In August of 2019, San Francisco Sunrisers interrupted a DNC Resolutions Committee meeting with songs and chants of protest; they had learned that the DNC had decided not to have any of their presidential debates focus on the climate crisis. In December, that same hub also shut down PG&E’s Spear Tower office. In collaboration with disability justice and utility justice activists, Sunrisers demanded that: PG&E return shareholder profits to the people, invest in protecting the most vulnerable, and give up ownership of utilities to the public since the company’s own approach proved reckless. The company’s negligence resulted in 1500 fires that PG&E’s equipment sparked over a 6-year period. These actions have been followed by more rallies, strikes, and sit-ins all over the country.

Significantly, the call to action comes from Sunrise CoFounder and Executive Director, 26 year old, Indian-American Varshini Prakash. It was shaped by a shared dream that Prakash had with a handful of like minded friends in 2017 and has since evolved into a grassroots behemoth made up of over 300 hubs across the United States. Her message resonates with young Indian-Americans, as hundreds have joined the Sunrise Movement – fighting for clean air, clean water, clean energy, sustainable agriculture & development, and good jobs.

Maya and Mahesh, young Indian-Americans at the forefront of this movement, were interviewed to provide insight into the diverse backgrounds of those within the movement; varied interests didn’t limit the contribution they could make to Sunrise. You can get involved too!

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Hey Maya! Which school do you go to and how did you first come to know about Sunrise?

I am a Biology and Political Science major at Northeastern University. I was taking this class called Intro to Global Health, and for my final paper, I decided to research the potential public health effects of the Green New Deal. I heard about Sunrise through a professor during that research process and I really admired the work they were doing. 

And then you joined in?

Yeah, in April I started volunteering consistently, doing campaign work for local candidates through the Electoral team, which is part of the Action team.

What else are you excited about?

The Boston City Council had an amazing victory; 7 out of 8 of our candidates won. I want to see the outcomes of that – how they’re going to use their new power. I’m also looking forward to seeing what happens with the State House and Congressional elections. 

And who are your favorite Presidential candidates?

I’m a big fan of both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. 

Me too. Now tell me more about you – who is Maya Mudgal?

Well, I grew up in Lexington with my parents & two brothers. My parents immigrated to the US in ‘93, and we’ve been in Boston since 2001.I got involved in college radio as DJ, my show was called Trail Mix. I also joined a global health organization. My friends would describe me as independent, driven, detail oriented, and someone who tends to jump into too many projects. I enjoy long walks and I love to make playlists – everything except country music & EDM. 

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Hey Mahesh! Where did you go to school, and how did you first come to know about Sunrise?

I graduated in May from Washington University in St. Louis, where I majored in biochemistry (I’m studying to be a doctor). I first heard about the Sunrise Movement on ABC News and I was encouraged to join by my sister. 

And then what? 

I recently joined the Fundraising team and just became the new Treasurer. I volunteered for Beyond Schools for two and a half years; this is my first time volunteering for climate justice and environmental protection in my community. 

Tell me about yourself. Who is Mahesh Challapalli?

In my free time I like to cook and read novels. I was on the tennis team in college. I’m okay at guitar, still learning. My friends would describe me as ‘lost and clueless’. My mom would describe me as loving. I’m a good friend and brother. I prefer talking to people in small groups because I feel more introverted than extroverted.

Who are your favorite presidential candidates?

I like Warren and Sanders. Definitely not Pete Buttigieg. 

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Get engaged. As the new year rolls in, we need to reflect on our civic duty. NYC, Chicago, DC, LA, San Francisco, San Jose, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Boston have the highest density of Indians; all of these cities face major environmental risks in this decade. For some, this means rising sea levels, increasingly frequent hurricanes, and loss of wildlife and wildlife habitats. For others, the risks can mean air pollution, wildfires, extreme heat, coal & fracking-related illnesses, deforestation, and clean water scarcity. 

The youth of the Sunrise Movement see it as their dharma – their duty – to mitigate these risks through activism. That is why we ask YOU to contribute in whatever way fits your interests and abilities: volunteering at your local hub, small monthly donations, or starting the dialogue about Sunrise. We need the support and participation of the Indian-American community at large; we can’t do it without you.

Sara Singh is a Revenue Operations Analyst and recent US citizen who became politically activated after the Sunrise Northeast Regional Summit. Having witnessed air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, and trash proliferation — in India, Chile, and many parts of the US – she’s switching careers to focus on environmental justice. 

Edited by Srishti Prabha

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World

May 16–October 6

 

This story was sent to us and Co-organized by San José Museum of Art (SJMA) and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA)

Organized by Lauren Schell Dickens, curator, SJMA and Jodi Throckmorton, curator, PAFA


Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is the first mid-career retrospective of the artist’s work. The exhibition presents almost twenty years of Banerjee’s large-scale installations, sculptures, and paintings—including a re-creation of her work from the 2000 Whitney Biennial; sculptures featured in the 2017 Venice Biennale; and recent work for the Prospect 4 New Orleans biennial.

Rina Banerjee (b. 1963 in Calcutta, India) grew up in London and eventually moved to New York. While the visual culture that she experienced as a child in India greatly influences her aesthetic,  her immigration to the UK and her love of the diverse culture of her current home, New York City, form the core of her practice. Banerjee creates vivid sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world. She is a voracious gatherer of objects—in a single sculpture one can find African tribal jewelry, colorful feathers, light bulbs, Murano glass, and South Asian antiques in conflict and conversation with one another. These sensuous assemblages reverberate with bright colors and surprising textures present simultaneously as familiar and unfamiliar.

Amidst a progressively factious turn toward nativist politics in the United States, Banerjee relentlessly creates work that reflects the splintered experience of identity, tradition, and culture often prevalent in diasporic communities. Significantly, her career as an artist, beginning in the late 1990s, parallels the expansion of the global art world, the Internet, and the repeated rise and fall of “identity politics” in art.  Though Banerjee is one of the most important artists of the post-colonial Indian diaspora living in the United States, and her work has consistently gained visibility internationally (especially in Asia and Europe), she remains relatively unknown to U.S. museum audiences.

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World focuses on four interdependent themes in Banerjee’s work that coincide with important issues of our time: immigration and identity; the lasting effects of colonialism and its relationship to globalization; feminism; and climate change.

Catalogue

A full-color, ca. 160-page catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition and available for purchase at SJMA’s Shop.

Touring schedule

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, October 27, 2018—April 7, 2019

San José Museum of Art, May 17—September 29, 2019

Palm Springs Museum of Art, CA Spring 2020 (TBC)

Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN, August 6—October 25, 2020 (TBC)

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, NC  (TBC)

Learn more about this wonderful exhibition here:  https://sjmusart.org/exhibition/rina-banerjee-make-me-summary-world

This Article was provided to India Currents by the San José Museum of Art

 

climate change

Indian Monsoons in California: A Time to Celebrate?

Usually I love the rain––I love how it washes everything away, how it makes new buds pop up from the ground, the smell of wet dirt after the first rain of the season––but this year, it’s different. This year, that smell is laced with the smell of smoke. This year, those buds are brown, and this year, nothing feels clean.  

4 p.m., August 11, 2017. I step out of the computer lab at my school as Journalism ends, and scroll through the notifications on my phone. The Washington Post is reporting changes in Hurricane Irma as it sweeps through Florida and the Caribbean, new Google Classroom notifications pile up, and I see the text messages. It’s my sister, telling me that in the middle of the day, while the temperature outside is 93o F, it’s raining. Raining. At first I’m happy, excited even. These recent weather patterns are reminiscent of Indian monsoons, where hot rains are a common occurrence that provide a fleeting respite from the usually sticky and humid summer weather. It brings back pleasant memories of sticking out my head out of my grandparents’ apartment window to feel the rain on my face, and of walking precariously yet briskly in the streets of Ahmedabad to avoid the ever-growing puddles of water. But that very fact, that this weather reminds me of Indian monsoons, is exactly the reason why I cannot enjoy it. In California, where mild weather is what we have always experienced, Indian monsoons should not be something we encounter. California, which has only known moderate summers and moderate winters, should not have to issue wind storm warnings and lightning alerts in the middle of September.

At this point, evidence for climate change isn’t hard to find. My own backyard is like a science lab full of plants that can’t grow anymore, of more wild animals and insects finding their way to our house after being pushed out of their own homes, and of pools of what is most likely acid rain, collecting in old flower pots.

On the other side of the world, South Asia is having some of the worst floods in the history of the monsoons. The effects of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Jose (some of the worst hurricanes to occur in the United States) continue to be felt by communities all around the Gulf of Mexico. More earthquakes are occurring due to oil fracking. Wildfires ravage Yellowstone National Park.

And yet, as I write this at my desk, right outside my window the colors of the sky are slowly changing to a beautiful medley of blue, purple, orange, and red. The few remaining rays of sunlight reflect off the dark clouds to create an image that no painting, picture, or drawing could do justice to. Sitting here, I cannot help but wonder. How is it that our slow destruction can be so beautiful?

Isha Trivedi is a junior at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, and is an editor for the school newspaper. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling and listening to music.

Clarion Call to Creative Climate Action

Book2Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. By Amitav Ghosh. University of Chicago Press, September 2016. 196 pages.

The Great Derangement is an important corrective in the oft-polarized dialog on climate change. Rather than take sides on the American red-blue divide, Amitav Ghosh deftly takes everyone to task, including other contemporary novelists. Given the emotion around this important issue, this review takes a co-authored dialectic approach.

As an undergraduate in Stanford’s Earth Systems program, one reviewer (Siddhartha) was a student under Professor Stephen Schneider, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007. The other reviewer (Rajesh) has long used the D x V x F >R model to inform his change consultancy and to guide clients through transformational strategy initiatives.

The change model is a rather simple means of expressing that there is always resistance (R) to change. Transformational leaders must communicate why change is required due to dissatisfaction (D) with the current state, share what the future might look like in terms of a compelling vision (V), and plan how the collective must move forward with first (F) steps.
D: Dissatisfaction
V: Vision
F: First Steps
R: Resistance
If “D,” “V,” or “F” do not exist (i.e., in mathematical terms any, or all, are zero), then resistance prevails because resistance to change is prevalent (i.e., “R” is greater than zero).

Siddhartha, who is now at the London Business School, believes that Schneider would have strongly related with the above model, especially the “Burning Platform” concept. This  concept comes from a July 1988 news story about an oil rig on fire in the North Sea. To save their lives, rig workers jumped off the platform into frigid waters, running the risk of hypothermia. When asked why he jumped, one of the survivors said, “It was either jump or fry.” With the platform burning, he selected potential death over certain death. While the metaphor is not terribly original, it bluntly clarifies the dilemma: with climate change, the earth is burning, and we citizens have nowhere to jump from our planetary platform. Some type of action is required. And it is required now.

Rajesh questions the viability of a corporate top-down model for addressing the challenges of global warming. Vested interests have too much to lose, and corporate executives cannot be expected to be reformers.

Amitav Ghosh’s solution requires tripartite shared leadership: legislators must take the lead using a corporate compliance approach that privileges the utilitarian greater good; religious leaders must take the lead using a spiritual approach that gives voice to the voiceless poor that are at greatest risk of facing floods and droughts; and writers, who are by design at odds with the status quo and are able to articulate cataclysms in a visceral and believable manner, must take the lead to push, pull, and prod those in power.

Ghosh has  written a brilliant manifesto for urgently changing how serious literary communicators write about global warming:  “If the urgency of a subject were indeed a criterion of its seriousness, then, considering what climate change actually portends for the future of the earth, it should surely follow that this would be the principal preoccupation of writers the world over.”  The less compelling second half of The Great Derangement recommends that serious political leaders shift gears in how they drive policies to ameliorate the deleterious effects of this largely man-made climatic disaster:  “It is now perfectly clear that in the West political processes exert very limited influence over the domain of statecraft…this altered political reality may in part be an effect of the dominance of petroleum in the world economy.”

Ghosh skillfully opens the book with a section called “Stories” before moving on to “History” and “Politics.”  Unsurprisingly, the “Stories” part of this work of nonfiction is the strongest; given his bona fides as prize-winning storyteller, Ghosh is in his element gently, but firmly, criticizing writers who have shied away from exploring the scientific, cultural, economic, and personal aspects of carbon-dioxide-based global warming: “The questions that confront writers and artists today are not just those of the politics of the carbon economy; many of them have to do with our own practices and the ways in which they make us complicit in the concealments of the broader culture.”

Concealment and derangement are at the heart of this “heart-of-darkness” book-length essay. Developed from a series of lectures given at the University of Chicago, the author climbs down from the ivory tower position of postulating and posturing and makes a shift toward galvanizing fellow writers toward creative climate action. A marvelous passage of such creative literary writing is built on research Ghosh had done for his novel The Hungry Tide, from an Indian folk epic of the Sundarbans: “The tiger is watching you; you are aware of its gaze, as you always are, but you do not see it; you do not lock eyes with it until it launches its charge, and at that moment a shock courses through you and you are immobilized, frozen.”

The Great Derangement is an imploration for us to look at the tiger—our burning earth—in the eye before it is too late, before we are paralyzed with the shock of imminent death. Ghosh’s book aims to give voice to the “mute exchange of gazes” between mindless instruments of change who have brought the earth to this unsustainable stage and mindful agents of change seeking a path out of the deadlock. Ghosh introduces the reader to the idea of the “uncanniness” of all this change: “the uncanny intimacy of [our] relationship with the non-human.” This relationship has a built-in “powerful,” “grotesque,” dangerous,” and “accusatory” feedback loop built into it as the “events set in motion by global warming have a more intimate connection with humans than did the climatic phenomena of the past—this is because we have all contributed in some measure, great or small, to their making. They are the mysterious work of our own hands returning to haunt us in unthinkable shapes and forms.

From a book reviewer’s perspective, nothing is a more mysterious work of our hands than the creation of fictional worlds to bring to life nonfictional truths.  To overcome collective hand-wringing about climate change, we urgently recommend reading The Hungry Tide and The Great Derangement. This (F)irst step of yours will enable you to en(V)ision Ghosh’s twin worlds of fictional and nonfictional climate crisis, internalize (D)issatisfaction with our burning planet, and (R)esist the deranged idea that there is neither karmic nor capitalist cost to our carbon (dioxide) creating cultures.

For Bob Dimicco, with whom Raj and Siddhartha had the privilege to work in Cisco’s Cloud Consumption initiative. Cloud has nothing to do with inclement weather and Consumption has nothing to do with economic gluttony. Bob’s wise application of DxVxF>R to “Shadow IT” is the type of thought leadership required of climate change stakeholders.