San Juan Mayor Cruz reaches out to NH environmentalists, endorses Green New Deal
Updated: Oct 6, 2019
Manchester NH — The experience of being on the frontlines of climate disaster is moving the leaders who are putting their people ahead of their own ambition. Carmen Yulin Cruz is one of them.
The mayor played videos showing the lingering tainted water, talked about the expense of filtering to make it potable, and a lack of electricity. People should not have died because they did not have refrigeration for their insulin. We have the technology to protect the vulnerable. Puerto Rico has an abundance of sunshine and Mayor Cruz has come to value energy independence more than ever after the hurricane disaster her people endured. She brought with her a portable solar lantern that takes 8 hours in the sun to charge for 8 hours of use and can blink if there is an emergency. She shared stories of people begging her to install more solar and seeing people gathered under the one working street light after Hurricane Maria....it was solar. Cruz's parents were without electricity for a year.
She was casual, relaxed and friendly, supportive of the points of view shared with her. Those around the table - NH State Representatives Mo Baxley and Catherine Sofikitis, Cathy Corkery of NH Sierra Club, Rob Werner of League of Conservation Voters, Sam Tardiff of NH Youth Movement, ECHO Action (me), Mindi Messmer and Mackenzie Murphy, shared concerns.
Catherine Corkery spoke about the desperate need for weatherization and the importance of a prevailing wage to remove lowest bidder energy choices. Sam Tardiff spoke about uniting from the bottom up. The highly educated mayor seemed in full support of these suggestions.
The Mayor commented on how important it is to educate youth, because they are the ones who educate their parents. She cited the success of recycling as an action that was largely led by children, with habits cultivated at school, reminding their parents to recycle. Mayor Cruz also talked about the push for more fracked gas to be used in Puerto Rico. She seemed unimpressed and said natural gas is still using fossil fuels. She understands the pressing need for a planetary energy overhaul and supports the Green New Deal. Her understanding that the entire system must move, that workers must be supported in shifting out of fossil fuel industry jobs, to create change.
The people of Puerto Rico were isolated from many resources such as clean, fresh water and the means to power their homes. Rural communities and those with few financial resources are the least able to protect themselves and recover quickly from the impacts of extreme weather intensified by climate change. In listening to her, I kept thinking of the tribe of indigenous people of the Isle de Jean Charles on the Louisiana coast, whose ancestral lands have literally sunk and the people of Shishmaref, Alaska, who have seen ice melt away, land erode and their subsistence living forever altered. They are America's first climate refugees. Those endowed with power and riches hold dominion over those who are meek, but the power is within reach if the 99% can build common ground and strength for action that enriches our lives with jobs, healthcare, food security and a sustainable future. Mayor Cruz is supporting Bernie Sanders because he quietly came to meet and talk with people, determine their needs and then spoke out. She knows that he has been fighting for racial, environmental and economic justice and healthcare for his entire career and is now supporting him for President. I am ever-more appreciative of those speaking out about the hardship of climate disaster. It is the power of their stories, photos, videos and resilience that will help drive change. What we see now is a bellwether for what is to come. We cannot stop it, but together, we can avoid increasing the ferocity of what is to come.
Whose climate stories move you? PEOPLE BEFORE POLITICS. PLANET BEFORE PROFIT.