Citizens urge City Council to declare a climate emergency

Most scientists agree: Climate change is an existential threat to society as we know it. Furthermore, many believe, if immediate action is not taken, its effects may be irreversible.

Two residents of Ann Arbor, Alexandra Lindstrom and Robin Tuck, spoke in front of the Ann Arbor City Council Aug. 5 urging council to declare a state of climate emergency.

“I strongly urge council to declare a state of climate emergency, following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, New York City, and Kalamazoo Charter Township,” Tuck said. “This would help rally our community to fight for a sustainable future and push back on one of the most serious threats of our time.”

“We can rise to the calls of the leaders and the best to acknowledge our role in the creation of this crisis and our potential to bring forth solutions, or we can sit idly by,” Lindstrom said. “I ask Ann Arbor [City Council] to declare a climate emergency today for my generation.”

Scientists widely believe that one of many detrimental effects of climate change is an increase in the severity of storms. In her speech, Tuck referenced the severe storms that affected Ann Arbor July 19, which, in addition to leaving more than 15,000 customers in the Ann Arbor area without power, injured one person and damaged art at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

“The storm severely impacted artists and visitors to the Ann Arbor Art Fair, losing revenue for the city and damaging one of our cultural touchdowns,” Tuck said. “It wasn’t the kind of normal storms that I’m used to.”

Lindstrom said that many people are becoming increasingly anxious over changing environmental conditions.

“I represent a generation battling anxiety about what our future might look like, a generation trying to prepare ourselves for the lives and careers that might come to a grinding halt in the chaos scientists warn of,” Lindstrom said. “From local flooding eroding our roads to fires leveling cities, the climate crisis impacts every corner of our planet. It’s no surprise that eco-anxiety has emerged as a widely-used new team in my generation as systems around us collapse.”

Lindstrom, who is actively involved in the Sunrise Movement, a movement dedicated to stopping climate change, said she was one of thousands of eco-activists that gathered in Detroit last week for the primary debates to demand that candidates back the Green New Deal, a proposed plan by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to tackle climate change and income inequality.

Council member Anne Bannister (D-1st Ward) acknowledged Lindstrom and Tuck, and called for council to take up the issue.

“I encourage council to look at declaring a climate emergency action proposal,” Bannister said. “Part of the proposal is a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions city wide by 2025. It is a huge acceleration, but it may be warranted.”

Bannister encouraged the public to stay tuned for more updates on the proposal.