Earth Crisis Day illuminates climate crisis and its impacts

Organizers say traditional Earth Day celebrations often focus on the positives. They hope the event shows Los Angelenos the seriousness of environmental issues.

Earth Crisis Day's poster, with a logo of a planet on fire. The text reads: LEAVE SCHOOL! STOP WORK! TAKE TO THE STREETS! Friday, April 22

Environmental organizations around Los Angeles are coming together on April 22, Earth Day, to hold an “Earth Crisis Day” that highlights climate change rather than celebrates the Earth.

Organized by several groups including Families for a Future, UCLA Climate Action Now, Youth Climate Strike L.A., the Los Angeles Ecovillage Institute and Wisdom Arts Labratory, the event calls for Los Angelenos “to exercise the power of civil disobedience by skipping school or work for the day, to make their voices heard for the sake of the planet,” according to the event’s website.

“Our overriding goal is to BUILD THE MOVEMENT to increase our capacity to effect change, both locally and globally,” their site states.

Inspired by the Extinction Rebellion NYC’s Spring Uprising, events range from family-friendly speakers and musical performances on City Hall’s South Lawn and an Earthday Rally with speakers and musicians on UCLA’s campus and beach clean-ups in various cities around Los Angeles County.

Rebecca Jean Emigh, a professor of sociology, is one the organizers of the UCLA events. She hopes that holding events across the city will draw attention to the climate crisis and involve the entire communiy in demanding change from institutions like the city of L.A. and the University of California system.

“One thing that really creates a social change is people pressuring government institutions, and demanding change … it’s something that really works for a lot of people to join together and to say, ‘Hey, you know, we’ve had enough and we want you to change this,’” Emigh said.

Emigh also says that she hopes the event at UCLA will counteract the greenwashing taking place in other Earth Day celebrations.

“What [UCLA is] spending a lot of money on is based on buying carbon offsets carbon neutrality and continuing to burn natural gas in a huge cogeneration plant. That’s just greenwashing,” Emigh says.

The Los Angeles Brigade of Activist Musicians, Bands, and Artists, or La Bamba, is one of the musical groups involved in the event. The group combines music and activism by bringing instruments, singing, dancing, puppets and more to community protests. La Bamba believes that creatives have a responsibility to raise awareness for issues like the climate crisis.

“It’s just such a joyful experience, even when the situation is very dire and scary. And that’s what we’re facing with the climate crisis,” Lisa, a drummer in La Bamba who goes by her first name, said. “We are running out of time, and it’s all hands on deck. And that means artists and creatives like us have to get out there and support bringing attention to this, this very serious emergency because we don’t have any time to waste.”

Another organization that uses arts and leadership skills to prepare Los Angeles youth to fight climate change, Families for a Future, is participating in the Earth Crisis Day events to promote community building.

“The biggest challenge I see for so many people is they feel a sense of hopelessness, a sense of impending, ‘you know, what’s the point?’” Families for a Future co-founder Cameron Levin says. “We have to begin to generate hope in people first, but not a false hope.”

Youth Climate Strike L.A., one of the event’s organizers, consists of college and high school students passionate about taking government action to stop climate action. Their goals for 2022 include phasing out oil drilling in California and L.A. County and building community for marginalized groups within the context of climate activism, according to the organization’s logistics lead Sim Bilal.

“All the time Earth Day gets rebranded by corporations with greenwashing and all this silly language that everything is fine and we’re working on this and it’ll be OK,” Bilal said. “In actuality, the greenwashing language is extremely harmful to the environmental movement and to climate justice in general, it gives people a false sense of hope.”

Bilal also said he would like to see greater political action come out of the event.

“None of the [top running] mayoral candidates have a climate platform or mention the climate crisis at all on their website,” Bilal said. “One thing that I definitely want coming out of this crisis is to see L.A. politicians and generals step up and acknowledge the climate crisis as an issue that we need to be actively addressing, actively talking about and actively trying to solve.”

The Animal Alliance Network is an educational nonprofit that is part of the coalition organizing the Earth Crisis Day events. They focus on increasing awareness of the effects humans have on animals, for example, by promoting a vegan, plant-based diet.

According to Cesar Asebedo, vice president of the Animal Alliance Network, 30% of carbon emissions are a result of animal agriculture.

These environmental protests come at a time of great contention for climate scientists. Ellen Dent, the president of Animal Allience Network, cited the 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report that found the earth’s temperature is 1.5 degrees higher than pre-industrial levels.

“[The planet] is going to get to the tipping point where there’s no return, it’s only going to keep declining,” Asebedo said. “So before we get to that point, we hope that people can put the pieces of knowledge together and apply them so that they can start to help be a part of the solution and not the problem, because it’s going to be too late.”

Dent and Asebedo say they hope Animal Alliance Network can be involved in the events just by spreading the word about climate change.

“We just want to make sure that working with everyone to show unity and make sure that the vision message is heard,” Asebedo said.

One nationwide organization Extinction Rebellion, or XR, works to “persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency” through protests and civil disobedience.

Todd Katzberg, an organizer for the Los Angeles chapter of XR, said the group wanted to become involved in the Earth Crisis Day events because “[w]hat we’ve been doing for previous Earth Days has obviously not been sufficient to address the climate crisis.”

The Los Angeles chapter of XR was also interested in Earth Crisis Day because they often hold events aimed at organizing against specific government agencies or corporations. Katzberg says this is an opportunity for the group to participate in community organizing.

“Most of the time when we host events – or actions, as we usually call them – there is a target,” Katzberg says. “We’re going after banks that invest in fossil fuels, or we’re trying to argue for oil drilling setbacks. We don’t often enough do an event that is specifically about community building, community outreach, movement building.”

Ten organizations total are participating in the events for the Crisis Day around L.A. from April 13-23. Those interested in attending the events can find more information on Earth Crisis Day’s website.