I buy utilities and pay taxes in Virginia. We as a school buy energy in the state of Virginia. Dominion, an energy utility company, is the sole supplier of electricity to residents in Virginia. They have a monopoly on where we buy our electricity, and they know it.
Do you know what this means? They can get away with burning dirty fossil fuels, because they know we have nowhere else to turn.
But what does this mean for me, and for us? Fossil fuels are the num- ber one contributor to the climate crisis. From fueling more severe and frequent storms like Hurricane Katrina, to the removal of our mountaintops for coal mining, to the loss of our coastal communities, we are all affected by the climate crisis–and the dirty fossil fuels that we rely on for our energy. Fossil fuel extraction is poisoning whole ecosystems, while the burning of fossil fuels is causing terrifying rates of cancer, asthma, and other conditions that no one should have to be subjected to – and this is most directly affecting poor communities and communities of color. The fact that I buy energy from Dominion Power means that I am implicit in environmental oppression and degradation, and implicit in the poisoning of other Virginia communities (and the world). I guess we at EMU are, too – it is where our tuition dollars go.
EMU has a fantastic focus on creating a more ecologically healthy and sustainable footprint and campus. However, there’s an increasing amount of work that needs to be done at institutional levels to combat the increasingly complex effects and dangers of climate change.
We’re living in a country where we have the constant chance to take more active stances against environmental degradation and hold our government and institutions accountable in their destruction of our future. I see possibilities at EMU as a campus that is aware and engaged already.
So where can we act further? Through institutional divestment. Or demanding, as consumers, that Dominion provide renewable energy options. Co-ordinating with students across Virginia to hold our governor, Cuccinelli, and legislature accountable and let them know that “climate denial” is not an option any longer, because it’s sacrificing our neighbors and our future.
This October, I’m traveling to Pittsburgh, Pa., to attend Powershift. Powershift is a conference and convergence where 10,000 students from across the country will gather specifically to address climate change. This gathering of the youth climate movement will allow for strategizing effective ways to gift climate change, learning and skill-building around community organizing and running effective issue campaigns, as well as building relationships and sharing ideas to strengthen our work across the country.
I would love to see a critical mass of students from EMU attend this event and plug into the national climate dialogue – we have power as students and young people! Let’s shift power away from the fossil fuel lobby, and back into the hands of the people!
Please contact me if you are interested in attending the conference at email@example.com, or
-Jacob Mack-Boll, Contributing Writer
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