Originally featured on Elephant Journal May 6, 2017
I grew up thinking “green” was a dirty word.
No one in my family would identify as an environmental activist, let alone an eco-warrior—but they do care about the environment.
My dad and I are often—almost always—on opposite sides of local resource arguments. We debate, we raise our voices, we disagree, then we sit down and have a nice family dinner together.
We’re privileged to debate civilly. For many, arguments about the environment are a matter of life and death. Reasoned discourse is giving way to deadly violence around the world.
Caring about and advocating for our environment shouldn’t be a death sentence. I was horrified to learn recently that this past year will top 2015 as the deadliest year on record for environmental activists according to Global Witness.
Environmentalists around the world are defending forests from big mining corporations, the last mountain gorillas from poachers, indigenous land use rights from unscrupulous government officials, and urban communities from pollution.
They are also dying by the hundreds.
Just last Saturday, April 22, 2017 activist and author of I Dreamed of Africa, Kuki Gallmann, was shot in the abdomen by men at her conservation ranch at in northern Kenya. Dozens of others have been killed or wounded in the past few weeks.
On April 23, 2017 this year’s recipients were announced. They include a Congolese park ranger and former child soldier reporting on bribery by oil companies, a Slovenian organic farmer fighting air pollution, a third generation activist from California fighting industrial contamination, an Indian social justice leader, an Australian farmer fighting against coal development, and a Q’eqchi Guatemalan indigenous land rights…