Last summer, under the blazing heat of the worst heat wave ever measured in the Pacific Northwest, farmworkers from Central America toiled under minimal protection to maintain decorative trees and shrubs in the garden supply stores of the Willamette Valley in western Oregon.
One man, Sebastian Francisco Perez, died as the temperature rose to 115°F in Portland, hotter than Death Valley, and hotter than the highest temperature ever recorded in Guatemala, his home country. At the time of his death, the labor contracting company that hired him didn’t even know his name.
Nearly 200 years ago, the part of Oregon where Sebastian Francisco Perez died served as the end of the line for the Oregon Trail, a path created by white settlers to colonize the continent from sea to shining sea. Now, a new wave of immigrants is wondering if they have a future at all.
By now it’s clear that we’re in for some shit as the climate emergency escalates. Sebastian’s story highlights the harsh reality that people of color have dealt with for centuries––an experience that is becoming even more common, and extreme, as temperatures rise and the machinery of injustice seeks business as usual with increasing desperation. Climate change is inextricably linked to inequality, racism, and extractive capitalist expansion — none of which are compatible with a habitable planet.
This is a true emergency. Every one of us has the ability to help create change on the scale and rate this emergency requires.
This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their third and final report, outlining, in exquisite detail, all the ways that we already have the tools we need to bring an end to the climate emergency. One of the main findings is that it is possible for everyone, everywhere in the world, to have decent living conditions and for the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to prevent the worst of climate change — at the same time. These conclusions are nothing less than revolutionary. In fact, that’s exactly the language the report’s authors used:
Today, we’re embarking on a new phase of the effort to rapidly scale up climate action. We’re launching the next chapter of Currently, a weather service — and news hub — for the climate emergency.
Starting today, Currently will publish stories from our team of journalists and contributors around the world about extreme weather and its climate context. Our stories highlight local work and experiences during the climate emergency, profile individuals doing essential work to fight climate change, and show us all the ways extreme weather ties into our everyday lives.
At Currently, we exist not only to shine light on those communities and their struggles, but also to build a line of defense for future storms. We exist not only to amplify the voices of people on the front lines of climate change, but to act as an early warning system for climate disaster and an advocate for fundamental systemic change in all aspects of society.
Our vision is of a world where “a liberated, habitable and joyful future for people and the environment alike” is achievable for every single person on the planet, regardless of who they are, where they live, or what language they speak.
A few days ago, on World Meteorological Day, the United Nations launched an effort to expand early warning systems, like Currently. We’re proud to do our part to advance that effort, and here’s how we’ll try to do that:
- Currently aims to provide timely and plain-language weather information in a climate context in the primary languages of more than 100 countries within three years. Right now, we serve 15 cities in 4 countries and publish in three languages, and will continue expanding to new cities, languages, and countries as quickly as we have the resources to do so.
- Currently aims to build an international, interactive 24/7 text message service that will provide a timely response to any weather question from a meteorologist. We are already operating a text message service in English and Spanish, and will continue to expand its capabilities and hours of operation as we grow.
- Through partnerships with mutual aid groups, community-based organizations, governments, independent news organizations, and climate-friendly businesses, we aim to build local hubs of climate safety, joy, and community. We’re working on building these hubs for New York City, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Minneapolis/Saint Paul — if you’d like to be a part of these efforts, please contact us!
Sebastian Francisco Perez deserves justice. Everyone in the world deserves a safe and stable climate. At Currently, we won’t rest until that happens.