Senator Sanders Participates in the “Tuvalu Challenge” on Earth Day

 Senator Sanders Participates in the “Tuvalu Challenge” on Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, NYS Senator James Sanders Jr. stood waist deep – and at some point, was submerged entirely – in the ocean to deliver a speech calling on the local and international community to take action towards mitigating the climate crisis that is setting our world ablaze. Emphasizing Southeast Queens as a region particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and flooding, Senator Sanders conducted the “Second Annual Tuvalu Challenge” at Beach 86th Street and Shorefront Parkway.

The Tuvalu Challenge was inspired by Foreign Minister Simon Kofe of the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, who dramatized the plight of his endangered nation from climate change by delivering a powerful speech while standing in the ocean on November 5, 2021.

Senator Sanders then took to the water to deliver his speech and perform the Tuvalu Challenge, joined in the ocean by Assemblymember Anderson, Marcus Sibley of NWF, and Lou Harris of the  Black Surfing Association. During the 15-minute challenge in the freezing ocean, each participant spoke to the importance of community efforts towards a better world, and the importance of passing proposed legislation facing New York’s elected officials right now. As Senator Sanders asserted clearly, “Humanity must vanquish climate change, or climate change will vanquish humanity. We are at a point where we have to do something about this problem, or this problem is going to do something about us. We accept the challenge. We stand in solidarity with the people of the Earth, and we understand that the problem of climate change came from the West, not the developing nations. We can show the way back by recycling, we can show the way back by electrifying and stepping away from fossil fuels, and we intend to do that.” Furthermore, the Senator drew a parallel between the experience of constituents in the Rockaways and those inhabiting island nations near and far, as during the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, Rockaway residents observed the “bay meet the beach” with no one coming to the rescue despite sea levels rising continually.

“Senator Sanders has been a tremendous leader on climate—and his Tuvalu Challenge drives home how climate change directly affects us here in New York. This Earth Day event is an important part of our efforts to ensure that New York takes action this summer to Stop Funding Climate Destruction. The New York Tropical Deforestation-Free Procurement Act is one of the most important actions the state can take on climate this summer,” said Marcus Sibley of the NWF. As emphasized by Sibley, “Passion without legislation is just a conversation.” A sentiment Senator Sanders greatly adheres to in the fight against climate change through quality, sustainable legislation.

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