Why I Can’t Look Away From the Climate Crisis

Andrew Gaertner
4 min readFeb 8, 2022

It is personal

Osiris Yecibet Gutierrez, Patrocinio Sanchez, Melany, and Patric

Every day I see more news about the climate crisis, and every day I feel a more urgent need to be involved in collective action. Every day I see personal connections to climate injustice, and I am called to be part of collective resistance.

Am I alone in this? Why does it feel that way? Why does it seem like everybody else is able to look away?

I can’t look away.

It was the rainiest night of a week of solid rain in the coffee growing mountain village of Las Moras. Winds rattled the sheet metal roof as Patrocinio Sanchez, Osiris Gutierrez, their son Patric, baby Melany, and their dog huddled together around candles. Fleeing in the night was out of the question. The roads were washed out and the rivers swollen. As the family hunkered down in the dark, below their farm the muddy streams grew and spilled over banks. The streams soon carried whole sections of the stream banks away, sometimes causing the land above to slump and then eventually give way in massive landslides that the family could hear as occasional roars and feel as earthquakes. It was a sleepless night, as the roar and earthquake pattern was repeated over and over, including a small landslide that crashed into their house, collapsing the uphill wall and filling the house with mud and water.

When morning came and the rains had passed, Patrocinio, Osiris, Patric, and Melany emerged from their house to survey the damage. Their neighbor’s farm was gone, replaced by a canyon filled with red mud and logs and tumbled over coffee plants. Their neighbor’s house was teetering on the edge of the canyon, and everyone was outside surveying the damage. This was just one of over a dozen landslides in the community. Thankfully, no one was dead, but it was clear that with the saturated soils and still roiling rivers, this was not a safe place to stay. Almost all the people of the mountain community of over a thousand grabbed what they could from their houses and walked down the mountain. When they came to the stream, which was normally about 20 feet wide and easily traversable by stepping from stone to stone, they were confronted with a raging river over 100 feet wide, which was carrying boulders along its muddy violent path. Luckily, there was one narrow spot with a high footbridge…

Andrew Gaertner

To live in a world of peace and justice we must imagine it first. For this, we need artists and writers. I write to reach for the edges of what is possible.