This is a transcript of the speech given by ACE Action Fellow Eva Lin, who was a featured speaker at the #Earth2Trump Roadshow in Oakland, CA on January 2.
When I found out that Donald Trump won the election, it was the morning of his victory. I had expected to wake up to hearing that Hillary Clinton would be our first female president, but instead I was shocked with the news that Trump was our new president-elect. Trump’s victory was a devastating blow for me. As a young person, a woman, and an immigrant, Trump’s presidency threatens my future career as an environmental activist, my bodily autonomy, and my right to simply exist in this country. But for me, Trump’s presidency is more than a danger to my own safety and liberty. Due to Trump’s climate denial and support for the fossil fuel industry, it also threatens my uncles, aunts, and cousins back in Taiwan.
You see, in Taiwan, my homeland, typhoons are prone to hit the area since it’s basically an island surrounded by a mass of water. And now, due to climate change, these typhoons have intensified to an unprecedented level. For my family, this means that they no longer wait for the announcement of a typhoon to hit their city to know when they’ll have to hunker down. They just expect it. Already, they’ve had to relocate to higher grounds, away from the coast, just to avoid exposure to repeated flooding inside their homes.
When I think about a Trump Presidency, I worry about my family in Taiwan. As you’re likely aware, Trump has chosen fossil fuel lover Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, Rex Tillerson, CEO of fossil fuel company ExxonMobil for Secretary of State, and climate denier Scott Pruitt to head up the EPA. Trump has said he’ll pull out of the Paris Agreement, and his appointments would facilitate a $500 billion dollar Arctic drilling deal between ExxonMobil and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
I won’t be sitting idly by while the seas rise. No, I have inside me what corrupt politicians fear most: an understanding that I am powerful.
According to a recent United Nations environmental analysis of the Paris Agreement pledges, the world is currently headed for a 2.9–3.4 degree Celsius rise in this century, spurring a sea level rise of one meter. My family was already particularly vulnerable to climate impacts before Trump’s election, so I’ll be measuring his days in office in millimeters and degrees Celsius.
I won’t be sitting idly by while the seas rise. No, I have inside me what corrupt politicians fear most: an understanding that I am powerful. An understanding that they do not hand me my rights, I take them. An understanding that when I exercise my power in concert with a growing movement of people who have for far too long been sidelined and sacrificed in the name of profit, we will stop pipelines and take back our democracy.
As a child, I was always warned that we had to protect the Earth for the next generation and the next generation, and not once had I heard that we should protect the planet for the current generation. I’m here to change this narrative. Do you hear me, Trump? We’re going to protect this Earth NOW, for THIS generation, because my family in Taiwan doesn’t have another four years to squander.
My ask to you is this: understand that you are powerful. That one person can make a difference. I know you all must have repeatedly heard that phrase, and will probably brush that comment aside, as with most of my friends. But it’s true. Yes, alone, we are just one person. But together, we inspire. You take one idealist, spread his/her belief to just one other person. And watch a movement begin. My friends call themselves realists, but I consider myself a true realist, because I believe that when we work towards our ideals, we can make them a reality.
Join me then, in believing that we are powerful. Join me then, in building and living a new narrative. And join me, in winning this battle. Let’s create our ideal future for today.