Fighting for Air

We are in the midst of Climate Justice Month, an effort of Commit2Respond, a campaign of people of faith and conscious taking action for climate justice. We love today's message from Kenny Wiley on the urgency of working for justice today. 

 Click here to learn more about Commit2Respond and click here if you're ready to join us!

In Denver, we talk a lot about air—mostly because there’s less of it here, up at a mile high. It’s a reality I confront during a long, exhausting ultimate frisbee game.

I think there’s value in feeling the fatigue, in really experiencing it. When I gasp for breath after chasing down a receiver or defending a pass, I feel acutely air’s vital importance. Each sprint renews my commitment to protecting this invaluable resource, for my lungs find themselves fighting for air.

A few weeks ago in New Orleans—a city with thick, humid air—a group of UUs in which I was a part committed to pursuing climate justice. I was reminded by brilliant fellow Unitarians and Universalists that climate justice connects with other forms of justice work. People are impacted disproportionately by the exponentially growing climate crisis based on region, economic status, location, and so much more.

With similar urgency to the feeling in my lungs after an intense game, people and other beings are fighting for air, fighting for our Earth, fighting for life. President John F. Kennedy said, “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.”

May we feel the urgency to fight for our air and fight for our future—together.

Kenny Wiley, a UU World senior editor based in Denver, works for Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church as its director of religious education.

Today’s practice is to engage deeply with the disproportionate impacts of our environmental crisis, particularly along lines of class and race. Take time today to explore new learning and share with others.

Hear from Dr. Beverly Wright on growing up in “cancer alley” in Louisiana, and from Deirdre Smith of on the connections between Hurricane Katrina and Ferguson, environmental destruction and racial injustice—words that attain new power as the United States reels this week from yet another devastating shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in North Charleston, NC.

Today’s resource for deepening this message is the powerful story of Kimberly Wasserman, a community organizer from a Mexican American neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago who successfully organized her community to fight for their air and get two aging, polluting coal-fired power plants shut down (see the 3-minute video). 

For more resources, check out the “Air of Injustice” series on the disproportionate impacts of coal-fired power plants on African Americans and Latina/o and Hispanic Americans. You might also be interested in this comprehensive collection of environmental justice and environmental racism resources from the Energy Justice Network.