Can We Awaken in Time From Madness and Denial?

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Fri, 04/22/2022 - 15:10
Judith Black in "gas" costume hands leaflet to motorist

Story: Judith Black; Photography: Jerry Halberstadt


We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe—can we awaken from this nightmare? On April 16, 19, and 21 we climate activists stood out in Peabody Square to say that a new fossil fuel facilities in the year 2022 is an example of

“immoral and economic madness.”— UN Secretary-General António Guterres

We were heartened to be joined by Leo and Ryan, juniors at Peabody Memorial High School. They arrived, of their own volition, with signs, wisdom beyond their years, and a deep desire to participate in shaping the world they are walking into. “Oh, yeah, he is my favorite teacher,” one said of his environmental science teacher at the high school. This teacher has been instructing his students not only on the science of the climate crisis, but the energy infrastructure that exacerbates it.  These high school juniors understood profoundly what our municipal light plant doesn’t seem to acknowledge.  “This plant is not the direction forward.” 

Judith Black & Roger Rosen chat with Leo and Ryan at standout
Judith Black & Jim Mulloy chat with Leo and Ryan at standout

Yet the Mass Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) has already broken ground for the oil and gas facility, project 2015A, known as the Peabody peaker.  We have protested, collected over 1300 signatures calling for health and safety studies to be conducted, written endlessly to the 14 municipal light plants that have invested in the project, and pressured MMWEC to pivot to a clean, safe, and economical battery storage facility.  The trees have been cut, trenches for new, potentially hazardous infrastructure have been carved out of the earth, and large machinery vibrates throughout the days. This project is a terrible investment of resources and money, that will produce more pollution, green house gasses, and will threaten the safety of the community.

Bob Gamer at standout against peaker plant
Bob Gamer (Danvers, Unitarian Universalist Association) at standout against peaker plant
Kate Enderlin at standout against peaker plant
Kate Enderlin at standout against peaker plant
Young person at standout against peaker plant
Young person at standout against peaker plant
Carolyn Britt at standout against peaker plant
Carolyn Britt (Ipsich) at standout against peaker plant
Young person at standout against peaker plant
Young man at standout against peaker plant
Doris Lopez of Everett at standout against peaker plant
Doris Lopez of Everett at standout against peaker plant
Roger Rosen at standout against peaker plant
Jim Mulloy at standout against peaker plant
Representative Tami Gouveia
Representative Tami Gouveia
Demonstrator holding sign at standout in Peabody Square
Demonstrator holding sign at standout in Peabody Square
Representative Tami Gouveia, Ron Smoller, and Sudi Smoller
Representative Tami Gouveia; Ron Smoller and Sudi Smoller, Breathe Clean North Shore
Judith Black in "gas" costume gives leaflet to passing motorist
Judith Black in "gas" costume gives leaflet to passing motorist
Susan Smoller talks with two demonstrators
Susan Smoller talks with demonstrators
Demonstrators display signs at standout
Demonstrators display signs at standout
Jim Mulloy, Amanda Nash, and Rob Bonney display signs at standout
Jim Mulloy, Amanda Nash, and Rob Bonney display signs at standout

As the world wakes up to the hazards of fossil fuels, our stand-outs represent growing diversity and concern.  People came from Acton, Boston, Everett, Northampton, Danvers, Salem, Marblehead, and Ipswich as well as Peabody.

Leo and Ryan, Juniors at Peabody Memorial High, hold signs
Leo and Ryan, Juniors at Peabody Memorial High, hold signs

The young people who attended understand all too well that the world they will inherit is deeply damaged by environmental degradation and the warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.  They are speaking out.

Theater majors from Peabody Memorial High School
Theater majors from Peabody Memorial High School

 

Rob Mulloy and Kate Enderlin at standout
Jim Mulloy and Kate Enderlin at standout
Demonstrators holding signs at standout in Peabody Square
Demonstrators holding signs at standout in Peabody Square. From left, Logan Malik (MCAN), Emily Richey-Stavrand; far right Rob Bonney.

Listen to us:  No new fossil fuel infrastructure!

Demonstrators holding signs at standout in Peabody Square
Demonstrators holding signs at standout in Peabody Square Right: Emily Richey-Stavrand
Maddie Lee (Mass Renews Alliance) & Dog at standout
Maddie Lee (Mass Renews Alliance) & Dog at standout
Adam 12 and Dan Vassalo
Adam 12 (radio music host)  and Dan Vassalo (Breathe Clean North Shore)
Theater majors from Peabody Memorial High School
Theater majors from Peabody Memorial High School

 

Demonstrators gather in front of court
Demonstrators gather in front of court
Most of the demonstrators holding signs
Demonstrators holding signs.

Among the many participants in the three standouts were Jim Mulloy, Rob Bonney, Kate Enderlin, Carolyn Britt, Amanda Nash, and Judith Black,  members of 350 Mass North Shore Node; Bob Gamer; MCAN workers and their friends and relatives; members of Breathe Clean North Shore; Mass Renews; and young and old residents of Peabody.

Jerry Halberstadt takes a break from taking pictures Photo: Ron Smoller
Jerry Halberstadt takes a break from taking pictures Photo: Ron Smoller


On behalf of Breathe Clean North Shore & the Planet: Many thanks to each person who took part. You came from far and near and stood in the sun and in the wind to spread the word. The standout is an example of how we need all hands on deck. High school students who focus on science, and students of theater arts, hunger strikers, story tellers, politicians, community organizers, leaders of faith communities, makers of signs, dedicated activists, disk jockeys and office workers, and ordinary people: we stand together. We are determined, some would say stubborn.

We have already done the difficult stuff, now we're doing what others consider the impossible. We're tilting for, not at, windmills and for other technologies to assure clean, safe, renewable power. But our central task is to overcome a widespread denial of the urgent need to change ourselves, adapt, and work to mitigate the real threat before us. That's why we continue to seek attention and strive to inform and educate to enable people to make informed decisions. We invite you to join us, there is much to do, together.—JH