Heat Week Speech: Mere Remembrance Is Not Enough

[This speech, written by Diana Meisenhelter, was delivered by Michael Fairhurst, pictured above, left, at the June 27 “Hot & Bothered” rally in front of City Hall as part of Portland’s Heat Week.]

Greetings. During the Heat Dome this time last year, 96 Oregonian lives were lost in an event that we knew to be inevitable given the climate crisis that we are in.

Shortly after the tragic deaths at Kent State, feminist musician Holly Near wrote a song.  The first couple of lines of the chorus speak to the situation we all too often find ourselves in these days. She penned: ”It could have been me, but instead it was you / so I’ll keep doing the work I was doing as if I were two.” A few lines later she emphasized the importance of committing to being a “righter of wrongs.” This is the memorial commitment we must make when lives are senselessly lost especially where there could have been prevention. Mere remembrance is not enough. We must do something — we must act!  We must take up the struggle of those who have fallen and press on for the changes that need to happen so that more do not perish. Let’s take a moment of silence in remembrance and commitment.

If you haven’t lit a candle yet, please do so.

It’s a hot one today. Here’s an excerpt from a June 18th Guardian article:

“Only drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will prevent climate chaos. The current heatwaves are happening as the earth has warmed by about 1.2C above pre-industrial levels – nations agreed, at the COP26 UN climate summit last November, to try not to let them rise by more than 1.5C. Beyond that, the changes to the climate will be too great to overcome with shady trees or white roofs, and at 2C an estimated 1 billion people will suffer extreme heat. “We cannot adapt our way out of the climate crisis,” Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, told the Observer. “If we continue with business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, there is no adaptation that is possible. You just can’t.”

Given this reality, we’re appalled by the City’s inaction. Yes, we’re ”Hot and Bothered”! 

About Diana Meisenhelter

Diana Meisenhelter has been involved on the Action Team of XRPDX since January 2019.  She served on the Extinction Rebellion US National Restructure Working Group proposal for a year and a half.  Active in antiracist, social justice, labor, and environmental organizing since the early 1970s, Diana has over 50 years of experience in movements for justice.


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