Surprisingly, a Lot to Be Thankful for in 2017

Alex Levinson, Executive Director
Date: November 24, 2017

I’m sad about—and definitely resisting—the Trump administration’s attack on the environment, social justice, and the rule of law in the United States.

But I also have a tremendous amount to be thankful for this year, and I want to share some of my thoughts with you.

Because of the support of people like you, Pacific Environment and our community partners around the Pacific Rim have had a heartening year, making major progress internationally and in other countries.

Indeed, a number of you have noticed, telling us that we have been one of the few bright spots of success in 2017.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing with you stories about brave grassroots leaders who are driving change in their communities. But let me tell you right now why I’m grateful to be steering Pacific Environment in these tumultuous times.

Supporting frontline activists is one of the most important things you and I can do right now. Community leaders around the Pacific Rim are finding new and inventive ways to protect us all from climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, and plastic waste. Pacific Environment nurtures these creative solutions by providing local leaders with funding, technical expertise, and one-on-one mentoring.

We won’t bury our heads in the sand—or go it alone: Our planet needs global solutions. When American logging companies cut down old growth forests in California, the Earth moves closer to climate catastrophe. When China’s rural communities fail to collect their trash, it ends up in rivers that carry it into the Pacific Ocean where it is swallowed by fish that end up on our plate and feed us toxins.

Everything is connected. That’s why Pacific Environment is building international movements and networks that connect frontline activists to each other. Because when these leaders get together, they realize that they are not alone; they exchange ideas and effective strategies to tackle local and global threats, develop joint campaigns, and give each other moral support in tough times.

Our solutions make a real difference for people and the planet. In 2017, we led a coalition that persuaded the international community to take action against heavy fuel oil in the fragile Arctic. This oil would devastate Arctic marine life, and a spill would be impossible to clean up in the region’s cold, icy waters.

Partners in China reached new heights in protecting their communities from the country’s horrendous water and air pollution. They are engaging tens of thousands of local people in river-watcher networks that are cleaning up record numbers of dangerous pollution in local communities.

Our grassroots partners encourage citizens to become pollution watchdogs. Every year, they help uncover and clean up hundreds of pollution cases across China.

Russian partners helped foment widespread community protests against the terrible health harms from coal mining and toxic coal dust. Once on no one’s radar, coal harms are now inflaming Russian citizens at the grassroots level and bringing local people together in the fight against dirty fossil fuels.

Finally, we created new alliances with partners in Asia to promote local zero waste solutions that will help stem the tsunami of plastic trash flowing into our oceans.

We are helping community leaders in Asia to form zero waste coalitions to curb the flow of toxic plastic waste into the ocean.

I hope you are as proud as I am to be a part of this global community of incredibly brave activists and community leaders who are building a better world for all of us.