Women lead the march for climate leadership in California

DSC_0555A good friend of mine once told me that he believed climate change to be “THE intersectional issue.” Considering that he came from the climate movement, I initially took the statement with a grain of salt — he seemed pretty biased. But I’ve come to agree: not one person on this earth can live unaffected by climate change and our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, or where you live, unless we do something, we’re all gonna be fucked. But many people, particularly women of color, are already experiencing those negative effects in painful and irreversible ways.

California’s March for Climate Leadership, the largest anti-fracking action in US history, was lead by some of those women. Last weekend a diverse and powerful indigenous contingent lead 8,000 people calling on Governor Jerry Brown to end fracking in California.

Fracking — or hydraulic fracturing — involves injecting enormous amounts of water and chemicals into the ground in order to break shale rock and access the natural gas beneath it. It has been widely criticized as it damages land, pollutes the air, generates excessive amounts of waste water and adds tons of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere.

Fracking and oil exploration have very real human costs in addition to the environmental horrors they cause. The toxic chemicals fracking shoots into the ground, which have been linked to birth defects, infertility, and cancer, make their way into the drinking water supplying surrounding communities. Oil labor can be very dangerous and backbreaking work — oil workers are 7.6 times more likely to die than workers in other industries.

DSC_0569And oil booms also wreak havoc on the communities they inevitably invade. Take, for example, North Dakota, which has experienced an enormous boom in oil production thanks to the Bakken oil formation which covers a large part of the state. Workers have flooded to the region in the thousands, installing themselves in informal trailer parks known as “man camps.” These camps are often located miles from — or sometimes within — various Native American reservations and have been linked to an alarming increase in violence against women. This isn’t the first time resource extraction and development projects have lead to violence against women. Multiple cases of human trafficking have been documented around the construction of the hydroelectric Belo Monte damn in Brazil as well.

Women are often conflated and compared with nature, particularly when it comes to exploiting or forcibly dominating one of them. And though I disagree with the notion that my gender predestines me — along with the earth — to being shit on and having to deal with everyone else’s messes, it’s undeniable that the fate of our planet is in fact inextricably tied to that of women. Women deal most closely with some of the worst effects of climate change and resource extraction on health, agriculture, care, and, more and more, migration.

Climate change will affect all of us, but it is hurting many of us right now. It’s time the feminist movement — and everyone else — woke up to what has to be biggest battle we’ve ever tackled: the fight for our lives.

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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