Tallahassee Green Faith Alliance hosted the virtual event “Ring the Bells for Climate Justice” on Thursday, which was the International Green Faith Day of Climate Justice.
The event included a lineup of speakers who talked about the importance of achieving climate justice. They were followed by 15 minutes of “sacred sounds” to encourage state leaders to act on climate legislation.
Rev. Latricia Scriven of New Life United Methodist Church explained how she was personally affected by the lack of climate change from living near “cancer alley,” an area known for having toxic air.
“I grew up on the cusp of what has become known as canceralley,” Scriven said. “It’s an 85-mile stretch of land along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to New Orleans. It has more petroleum plants than you can ever imagine, or that should even be considered legal.”
Scriven’s mom and aunt have been diagnosed with cancer as a result of living in cancer alley, along with three of their siblings dying from different forms of cancer. Her husband played on a playground in Jacksonville that is a toxic waste dump. His sister was also diagnosed with cancer a few years ago.
She says the main issue is society’s lack of caring for the people living in it.
“We are literally destroying the world and everyone in it,” Scriven said. “We are the ones that are responsible for setting an entire planet on fire and we’ve got to do better. We need to do better. We have the power to do more now.”
Charlotte Stuart-Tilley, a GenCLEO strategist for the CLEO Institute and passionate advocate for climate justice, is a homeschooled high school sophomore who was inspired by Greta Thunberg and many youths around the world to fight for climate advocacy. Tilley points out the fact that climate change has been around for many years.
“We have known the science of anthropogenic climate change for decades now,” Tilley said. “And politicians and other irresponsible adults in charge continue to ignore it.”
Tilley believes it is important to apply knowledge by taking action to make changes.
“I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power,” Tilley said. “This is the time for us to mobilize and begin making structural change. This is the time for us to remember that we are in a global crisis, one that goes beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. Now is the time to act and understand that if we don’t stop it, perhaps nobody else will.”
Florida state Rep. Ana Eskamani and Sen. Lori Berman were not able to attend the virtual event, but they sent pre-recorded videos and spoke on the importance of climate change.
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey says that while progress is being made, more work needs to be done to achieve climate justice.
“As people of faith, it is our calling to be good stewards of creation,” Dailey said. “All of Tallahassee’s municipal buildings are powered by solar energy. We need to move forward and set the example for all communities. We must all do our part. Renewable energy is a justice and faith issue.”
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is willing to be an advocate in the fight for climate justice.
“We do believe that this is the challenge of our generation,” Fried said. “We must win and overcome this challenge. This is a human issue that we all need to be putting our attention on. I am committed to fighting climate change today. The future generation depends on us being leaders today.”