Opinion: The Amherst Mortals’ Manifesto


Stop Fossil Fuels protest on the Amherst Town Common, September 15, 2023. Photo: Laura MacLeod

Laura MacLeod

A small but very engaged group met downtown Amherst on Sunday, September 17 in tandem with the historical NYC Climate March and with many others worldwide to protest against fossil fuels. 

At this extreme point in the destruction of nature, where every ecosystem cries out for urgent help, we cannot stay silent. Today the only way to avert climate doomsday, to guarantee life on Earth, is to end fossil fuels. This toxic industry, in conjunction with big plastics and big pharma, had decades to help prevent the ecocide unfolding everywhere. But they didn’t do it and this is now the state of the world: sprawling fires, droughts, floods, species extinction, oceans dying, hyper-consumption, migrant crises, food and water shortage, more plastic, etc….the deadly maelstrom goes on and on.

We are living in terrible times and we are running out of time as a species. As David Attenborough has said, “We moved from being a part of nature to being apart from nature.”

Massachusetts environmental groups have been calling attention to this state of destruction for decades. Their activism to end fossil fuels includes protesting against gas pipelines, biomass, fracking, and more fossil fuel expansion; saving the basic life-sustaining elements: water, soil, air; speaking up for our native forests from permanent logging and solar sprawling; protecting our environmental laws under siege; and raising awareness to help environmental justice communities and native nations who bear the brunt of pollution of all kinds which is destroying their lives and the traditional fabric of their culture.

Many of us in our environmental organizations continually direct recommendations for best practices to decision-makers at all levels. They have the power and resources to effect change. The climate crisis is unfolding everywhere in an unstoppable ecocide, destroying the natural environment by deliberate or negligent human action. There is the urgent need for an effective action plan from decision makers.
It is my earnest wish that more funds should be directed to protect the place we all call home, our town, our public green spaces, our forests, air, rivers, and soil that our communities depend upon. 

For the future of our community and the Commonwealth, our representatives, and every decision maker must act to protect the planet and its communities. More than ever, we cannot take things for granted. Local, state, and national elections can all make a difference in our lives and the environment. The importance of municipal elections in the climate crisis cannot be understated.

The Massachusetts Sierra Club, a grassroots organization that serves cities and towns across our state, wholeheartedly believes in community power to make a difference in protecting our environment, fighting the climate crisis and supporting climate justice. Our work with local elections across the state shows the power of driving change and impacting the environment.  The power we have in our local communities is the vote — voting for the right people and holding them accountable. In the upcoming elections we have the opportunity to effect change.

Local government directly impacts the lives of people. They make laws in our community that govern everything: from schools, housing, transportation, and the environment. People in government must be sensitive to the results of poor environmental policies. Voters in communities can make that happen. Remember that what starts local can go national. A law that is passed in our local community can sometimes move its way to federal policy. 

A massive environmental civics education and action campaign for all is needed. I’ve already sent suggestions and guidelines not only to our school system but also to town councilors. In Amherst we have the Climate Action, Adaptation and Resiliance Plan (CAARP), which should be fully implemented and improved to include the latest best practices and adjust them to our community.

My “Mortals’ Manifesto” was read at the Sunday climate gathering. I explained it and also about the Sierra Club priorities and campaigns. We then raised our posters and offered a moment of silence for the destruction of our dear Merry Maple and of our world. People asked questions, we gave handouts of the manifesto and sang the song “Leave it in the ground,” which was written by one of the attendees. We believe that one little action is one small step for saving the planet. There’s only one and we want to keep it healthy, happy and hopeful!

The Amherst Mortals’ Manifesto To End Fossil Fuels

  • Water is life. DCR’s Division of Water Supply Protection must protect our water and end logging on our public lands
  • Stop AI! AI Wastes Millions Of Gallons Of Water Every Month! Use It Only To Save Earth
  • Climate Justice Now! Justicia Climática Ahora!
  • Stop private jet expansion everywhere. 
  • Protect our voice. Defend NEPA. (National Environmental Policy Act)
  • Shut Down Enbridge Line 5.
  • Stop MVP. (Mountain Valley Pipeline)
  • No LNG. (Liquefied Natural Gas)
  • Go ZW. (Zero Waste)
  • Sierra Club MA Current Campaigns: Put Gas In The Past (Petition), PFAS (Action Alert), Offshore Wind, Save Our Public Lands & Forests, Sc Legislative Priorities 

    Contact Us Https://Www.Sierraclub.Org/Massachusetts/Gas-Infrastructure-Pipeline-Leaks

Laura MacLeod is a resident of Amherst and a member of the executive committee of the Massachusetts Sierra Club 

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1 thought on “Opinion: The Amherst Mortals’ Manifesto

  1. More actions like this are needed in Amherst and around the Valley. Far too many of us are in denial or feeling overwhelmed. The Climate Crisis is the existential threat of our time and ignoring it only makes matters worse. Our motto on The Enviro Show is “The best antidote to despair is action!” Try it. We think you’ll find it works.

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