14 April 2019

David Buckel Memorial Day of Mourning for the Climate Crisis

from a 2017 photo of David Buckel by Terry Kaelber
Today, my beloved and his co-author, Elizabeth, spoke at the local Unitarian Church about their book, Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival. Afterwards, we participated in a webinar with The Climate Mobilization entitled Meditation for Climate Emergency—Grieving the Future you Thought You Had. It was only after the webinar that I realized we hadn't said a prayer for David Buckel, who died one year ago today.

I wasn't blogging much at this time last year. My depression had kicked in, and I remember that I was gardening every chance I got in order to ground my grief and anger about the climate change emergency. If I had been blogging, I would have told you about David Buckel. 

David S. Buckel was a leading LGBTQ+ lawyer in New York City. Then he became interested in environmental issues. He died in Prospect Park (the scene of a huge Extinction Rebellion event today called Extinction Mass: Remembrance for Lost Species) early in the morning after setting himself on fire. The email he left behind read:
“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”
Comparing his death to the self-immolation of Tibetan monks protesting oppression by the Chinese government, he continued:
“This is not new. Many have chosen to give a life based on the view that no other action can most meaningfully address the harm they see. Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard. I hope it is an honorable death that might serve others.”
May David Buckel's suicide inspire courage in the rest of us — the courage to be of service in all the different ways that can fight the climate crisis. (I'll leave you with a list below.)

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
  • Don't fear sacrifice. Grieve what has to be given up ... and then get busy being a climate change activist.
  • Become politically active. Create political will by writing, emailing, faxing, phoning or visiting your elected officials — at all levels. Ask them (if they haven't already) to declare the climate change emergency. And then ask them what climate action they're supporting. Don't vote for anyone who isn't putting climate action first.
  • The most important demand to make of our government leaders? They must stop subsidizing fossil fuel industries around the world to the tune of $5.3 trillion every year (according to the IMF) in direct and especially indirect subsidies. Make the polluters pay the costs of the social (health) and environmental damage they create. The moment these subsidies stop, that famous invisible hand” of the market will swing investments over into clean, renewable, everlasting energy technologies.
And don't forget to, you know, conserve water (a huge percentage of a city's energy usage is for pumping domestic water!), drive less, and eat lower on the food chain if you're not already vegan.


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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?