Today, July 15, marks a national Day of Action for young climate activists who will hold “actions” across the country to encourage legislators to “at last be bold and pass climate policy.”

But a local group has already started its action.

An estimated 75 protesters called Sunrise Youth, a local chapter of the national youth-driven advocacy organization Sunrise Movement, held a rally outside the Los Angeles office of US Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday, July 13.

They were demanding that Feinstein and other federal legislators — specifically President Joe Biden — visibly and vigorously push Congress to pass a fully funded, $132 billion Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act introduced by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) in April.

Sunrise Movement, which has chapters all over the country, wants the legislative action passed by the end of summer as “an immediate and first step solution.”

Shortly before the rally, Feinstein tweeted out her support of forming a Civilian Climate Corps, but did not specifically mention funding or the pending legislation before Congress.

That prodded the protestors to declare they would “occupy space” outside Feinstein’s office until they got complete public support from the senator.

“A tweet ain’t gonna do it! Saying you support a Civilian Climate Corps is a good first step. Now, it’s time for Sen. Feinstein to put words into action and co-sponsor AOC and Ed Markey’s CCC bill to make sure we win a Civilian Climate Corps that meets the scale of the crisis!” said Josiah Edwards, 21, from Carson.

“Dianne Feinstein doesn’t understand our struggles. She’s never had to struggle to pay rent. She’s never had to worry about her water being shut off, or work days in 100 degree heat,” added another protestor identified as Nadia.

Simon Aron, a 15-year-old event organizer, said, “Every summer fire seasons devastate my community, putting the people and places I love in danger. And every single summer Senator Feinstein fails to fight for me and my generation. Unless Sen. Feinstein begins to fight for us, or flies down here herself to tell us why not, I’m not leaving.”

Photo Courtesy of Sunrise Movement
Protestors gathered in front of Sen. Diane Feinstein’s office in Los Angeles.

The current generation of American youth are tired of just talking about climate change and the global wrecking of the Earth’s eco-system. They want to be the generation that does something so the generations that follow don’t have to live with extreme weather conditions and the natural disasters they create.

Youth-driven advocacy groups like Sunrise Movement are springing up across the US. Although Sunrise Movement  stresses on its website that its movement is a nonviolent movement, there is a similar devotion to purpose seen in the youth anti-Vietnam war movement of the late 1960s.

And they also understand about developing and extracting capital for their cause. Sunrise Movement touts having helped Biden win the presidency by turning out more than 3.5 million young voters in the election swing states, because it believed Biden would be more receptive than incumbent Donald Trump about real solutions regarding climate change.

Now it wants Biden and others to prove their support.

“We’re at a point where we can’t make any more compromises,” said Sylvester Ani, a Sunrise Movement spokesperson. “With the Democrats holding the Presidency, the Senate and the House, we have to fully support the infrastructure package: ‘No climate, no deal.’ If we can’t get everything we want in it, we want Sen. Feinstein to refuse any [such] deal.”

The bill by Markey and Ocasio-Cortez, event organizers said, would form a Civilian Climate Corps and — among its other benefits — create jobs for an estimated 1.5 million Americans over five years to complete the federally funded projects to help communities respond to climate change and recover from climate disasters.

Fires, Drought Conditions Leave State Vulnerable

Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climatic change, but since the mid-20th century, humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth’s climate system and caused change on a global scale.

And the long-term effects of the altered temperatures, dramatic wildfires, and rapidly diminishing water sources over the past several years have not been disputed by any scientific body, nationally or internationally.

Two of those devastating aftereffects, droughts and wildfires, are among of the toughest challenges currently faced by residents, firefighters and state agencies.

State officials say the 2021 fire season has already had more than three times as much land burned in California this year than during the same time span last year.

As of Monday, July 12, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) was reporting  that fires in 2021 have already charred 142,477 acres in the state. That’s 103,588 more acres than during the same time period last year. Meaning California has already seen a 26 percent increase in wildfire activity and a 58 percent increase in acreage burned compared to last year at this time, CAL FIRE said.

California recorded its worst ever fire season in 2020, with around 4.1 million estimated acres burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

 Regarding the continued, dramatic disappearance of available water, more than 33 percent of the state of is considered to be in “exceptional” drought conditions, which is considered the worst of the four levels used by the US Drought Monitor to define conditions. It’s a 28 percent jump from where the state was three months before. Last week Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to voluntarily reduce 15 percent of their water usage as a way to preserve available supplies and protect reserves.

On Wednesday, July 14, the US Forest Serviced announced it was raising the Fire Danger Level from “Very High” to “Extreme” in the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

“Fuel moistures on the forest are very dry, this condition combined with high temperatures support rapid fire spread. By restricting the use of fire throughout the forest, and increasing staffing levels, the objective is to reduce the potential of a catastrophic wildfire starting” said Angeles Forest Fire Chief, Robert Garcia. 

Latest Wildfire Crisis

Southern California, even with temperatures reaching 123 degrees as they recently did in Palm Springs, somehow has not reached the exceptional drought stage. But it keeps creeping closer: most of the Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties are listed as being in “extreme” drought. Orange County and a smattering of Riverside County remain in “severe” drought.

Nonetheless, all of California is at some level of drought after another very dry winter and spring. And California is currently one of a dozen Western states besieged by wildfires that have greedily gobbled up more that 850,000 acres feasting on homes and water-starved vegetation. Thousands of firefighters have been desperately trying to contain two wildfires in the Northern half of the state, known as the Beckwourth Complex, and the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, that have burned up more 290,000 combined.

These disasters and others are why the creation and development of the Civilian Climate Corps — not only in California but nationwide — is critical, Ani said. 

“Every summer we watch as our communities are forced to live through and rebuild from fire seasons,” Ani said. “We watch as droughts devastate our water supply and heat waves kill our neighbors. We are left unemployed, with nowhere to go — no place to call home. And every summer it gets worse,” he said.