In December, Bay Area Action Fellow James Coleman spoke at a rally to #StandUpforScience from political attack outside of the 2016 American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, a convening of 26,000 scientists. James spoke alongside prominent climate scientists such as Michael Mann to a crowd over 500 scientists, community members, and activists. Below is his speech.
As a current senior in high school, I'm proud to say that I am an aspiring scientist and climate activist.
We all have lines we draw that, once crossed, we cannot stay silent any longer. For me it was learning about the protests at Standing Rock... where thousands of Indigenous peoples and their allies have gathered to defend their sole source of water from oil contamination. In response to peaceful demonstrations by water protectors, oil pipeline militia and police have retaliated with pepper spray, rubber bullets, mace, and water hoses. These are human rights violations happening right under our noses.
When I found out about Standing Rock, I knew I couldn’t be silent any longer. I’m not a politician. I’m not a public speaker. I’m not even a high school graduate. But I am a human being whose moral line has been drawn and breached, and through this I have been called to action. I joined the Alliance for Climate Education as a Fellow in August, and here I am today - speaking out in front of a crowd for the first time, nervous but ever determined to push for climate justice.
What I’m saying is this: What is your line? Is it when our neighbors' access to clean water is under threat? Is it when our children can no longer experience the ecological beauty that we take for granted today? Is it when the research you’ve conducted is disregarded as hoax? Or when every piece of evidence, factual concrete proof, that you’ve uncovered is thrown away just because it doesn’t fit a corporate fossil fuel agenda? I’m here to say, these lines have been breached! And although it may feel scary and foreign to speak out, speak out we must.
Countless people, including youth like me, are being mislead about the threats of climate change every day. It is our collective responsibility, each and every one of us, to inform the public about the undeniable truth about climate change so my generation has a chance at a safe climate future. It is our responsibility to debunk the belief that oil pipelines are a necessity. It is our responsibility to defend scientific integrity. It is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for prioritizing climate justice above corporate interest. And it is our responsibility to never let our lines be crossed without a fight.
This isn't something that you can hold off until tomorrow or do the night before. This is an issue of now.