The Power of Joined Voices
By Patricia M. DeMarco
May 20, 2018
“It took hundreds of millions of years to produce the life that now inhabits the earth – eons of time in which that developing and evolving and diversifying life reached a state of adjustment and balance with its surroundings. Given time – time not in years but in millennia – life adjusts, and a balance has been reached. For time is the essential ingredient; but in the modern world there is no time.” Rachel Carson
Daily headlines document the gleeful devolution of our environmental protections, even as the conditions of climate and pollution grow worse.A numbing effect sets in; beyond disbelief, a paralysis of will sends people into a shocked retreat. We pretend that some visionary leader will step in to save us. Or that a yet undiscovered technology will emerge to reverse the effects of global warming and global plastic pollution. We pretend it will all be fine, and try to go on with our lives while the basic life support system of our earth is torn to shreds. It is the children who are outraged, who bring suit and scream for justice. It is the Native American defenders of water and land who rise up with their lives on the line to protest and object.When rules protecting endangered species, drinking water, farm workers and children are dismantled in the name of immediate profits, or the lure of jobs, where is the outrage against the harm? Against the injustice? In nine states laws are under consideration that would make protesting energy infrastructure a criminal act, subject to prison as domestic terrorism.Where is the outrage against the basic violation of First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly? When did cruelty become a value that makes America “Great”?
No visionary leader is going to come forth to save us. We must take responsibility to object directly to those in office at all levels who are making these decisions. We must take action ourselves, in our daily lives. There is no way to generate the necessary uprising of protest against the outrageous actions of this Administration and those complicit by silence without each one of us standing up and declaring ENOUGH! There is a better choice for a way forward. We have better options for our economy, for our way of life, for our children’s future. We do not need to destroy the Earth to have a thriving civilization. Indeed, we must preserve and restore the living systems of the Earth if we are to survive at all.
On this day, my 72ndbirthday, I call on all of my colleagues and friends, collaborators and associates to Stand Up! Speak Up! End the complacent silence that gives tacit permission for the destruction of our world to continue. We must exercise our obligations as citizens, as caring human beings, as children of Mother Earth to preserve the life support system of our planet. I urge a call to action as a manifesto for the environment.
The rationale for this call to action rests on the following facts:
- The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania States “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.” Article 1, Section 27.
- All forms of exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change.
- Communities and people of color have been disproportionally affected by the environmental, health, social and cultural effects of energy and resource exploitation and development. 
- Burning fossil fuels, the principal cause of global warming, compromises the life support system of all oxygen-breathing, freshwater-dependent organisms, including humans, while global pollution from man-made chemicals, especially those with endocrine disrupting properties, threaten the health of creatures throughout the world. 
- The health and well-being of people and especially children are significantly degraded:
- One in 12 Americans suffer from asthma
- In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease 
- Newborn babies have more than 200 synthetic chemicals in their blood, 75 of which are known to cause mutations and cancers. 
- Sperm counts have declined by 50% to 60% in the last 40 years in America and other Western countries.
It is critical to seek and support people in office at all levels who support the following positions:
- To protect, restore and preserve for future generations the fresh water, clean air, fertile ground and biodiversity of species of Pennsylvania, the United States and the world.
- To promote urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities and rural areas honoring the cultural heritage of all our communities
- To support investment in renewable energy systems and regenerative agriculture and train workers to pursue careers in these fields.
- To oppose destructive practices such as slick water hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, destructive coal mining practices, and wanton pollution of water, air and land.
- To promote non-toxic manufacturing with an economy designed to reclaim and reuse materials, such as recycling of glass, plastic, paper and metals, and to limit or eliminate single-use plastics.
- To promote policies based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any discrimination or bias.
Only with the joined voices of all people who care about the future, about our children, and about the quality of life for all living things can we overcome the culture of greed that has evolved in America. The only value that matters in the current decision-making process is the dollar, the short-term economic benefit to interests vested in the existing political power structure. It is time to reassert the values of social equity, care and concern for the elderly, ill, weak and the children of our country. Many people in past generations — especially unionized workers — have fought for the protections put into place over the past 100 years. Their efforts changed the laws to protect worker health and safety, cleaned up the air and the water, established wage and labor protections so that life expectancy increased, worker safety and health become a priority, and broadly shared prosperity was accomplished alongside of real progress in cleaning up the environment. Those successful battles also made it possible for people to enjoy our national and state parks, not only because these areas were protected but also because of the negotiated rights of workers to have time away from work available for themselves and their families. 
Everyone alive today has received the legacy of the struggles of the activists who came before us. What has been so hard won with blood, sweat and tears can be lost through indifference, and complacency. It is time to reclaim and rebuild a public education system that prepares all Americans to respond to a changing future. It is time to have healthy people and a healthy environment as a right for everyone. It is time to reclaim America as a land of hope, empowerment and caring communities instead of a place of ignorance, deprivation and fear.
We must each stand up for what is true and right, with courage, determination and passion. It is not enough to grumble to each other, to wring our hands and complain. It is time to act boldly. We do not want to see hard-won environmental protections rolled back to 1985, or worse. We do not want to see worker and child labor laws weakened or rescinded. We do not want to have education become a privilege of the elite. We do not want toxic emissions to air, water and land to become even more pervasive. A true democracy depends absolutely on an informed and engaged citizenry, on freedom of speech and of the press. We must stand up for our America, or we will be inhabitants of a despoiled and tortured land, her wealth squandered, her beauty plundered, her heart broken. To accept tyranny in silence is to become compliant in the slow murder of our culture.
I will fight for clean air, fresh water, fertile lands, and to preserve the beauty and wonderful intricacy of Nature to my last breath. Join me, for now, and for the unborn children of the 21st century whose fate we shape by our action, or by our silence. Joined voices of the People will prevail over tyranny and greed.
Rachel L. Carson.Silent Spring. (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston,1962) 6.
 White House, Briefings and Statements. Energy and Environment Archive. 2017-2018 https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/?issue_filter=energy-environment
Juliana vs. The United States. Constitutional Climate Lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the District Court of Oregon. 2015. https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/us/federal-lawsuit/
 Grant Crawford. “Tri-Council Passes Resolution supporting Standing Rock Sioux.” Talequah Daily Press. May 1, 2017. http://www.tahlequahdailypress.com/news/tri-council-passes-resolution-supporting-standing-rock-sioux/article_89c0d220-2e88-11e7-9633-17825b450097.html
Daniel Walmer. “PA Senator wants protestors to cover costs if they break the law.” Lebanon Daily News. August 26, 2017. https://www.ldnews.com/story/news/local/2017/08/26/pa-senator-wants-protesters-cover-costs-if-they-break-law/601452001/
American Legislative Exchange Council. “Model Policy: Critical Infrastructure Protection Act” https://www.alec.org/model-policy/critical-infrastructure-protection-act/(Under consideration in nine states, including Pennsylvania.)
Portions of this statement were developed in collaboration with Mike Stout, Anita Prizio, Jay Ting Walker, Cole McDonald, with input from Jules Lobel and Mark Dixon as part of a proposed Platform for the Community Power Movement. See www.xxxxxfor details and more information.
Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Article 1, Section 27.
World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Cochabamba, Bolivia. April 22, 2010. https://therightsofnature.org/universal-declaration/
First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, “Principles of Environmental Justice.” Washington, D.C. October 27-29, 1991. https://www.ejnet.org/ej/principles.html
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, Contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Plenary 27, Valencia, Spain, November 12-17, 2007, page 36.
Crimmins, A., J. Balbus, J.L. Gamble, C.B. Beard, J.E. Bell, D. Dodgen, R.J. Eisen, N. Fann, M.D. Hawkins, S.C. Herring, L. Jantarasami, D.M. Mills, S. Saha, M.C. Sarofim, J. Trtanj, and L. Ziska, Eds. The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, 312 pp. http://dx.doi.org/10.7930/J0R49NQXhttps://health2016.globalchange.gov:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vital Signs- Asthma in the United States.” May 2011. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/asthma/index.html
National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute. Cancer Statistics. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics
Sara Goodman. “Tests find more than 200 chemicals in newborn umbilical cord blood.” Scientific American. December 2009. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/newborn-babies-chemicals-exposure-bpa/
Hagai Levine Niels Jørgensen Anderson Martino-AndradeJaime Mendiola Dan Weksler-Derri Irina Mindlis Rachel PinottiShanna H SwanTemporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Human Reproduction Update, Volume 23, Issue 6, 1 November 2017, Pages 646–659, https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dmx022
Matthew Mehalik, Executive Director, The Breathe Project contributed to this discussion.