Guest Columnist: Sturgeon Moritz ycatmadison
Anyone who lives in or near Madison Wisconsin has seen hundreds of yard signs against F-35s-- but did you know that high school students in YCAT (Youth Climate Action Team) have started leading the movement against them? It's true, and it's awesome!
The first question on your mind might be "what is an F-35 and why should we care?" To put it simply, an F-35 is a type of military jet that carries nuclear bombs, and there is a plan to replace Madison's F-16s (another type of military jet) with these new F-35s. F-35s emit roughly 14 tons of carbon dioxide every hour they are in flight, and the full program costs taxpayers about one trillion dollars, plus an additional $40,000 every hour they are in use. But wait, there's more! Lily Greisch, a high school student and member of the Dane County Youth Environmental Committee (DCYEC) and Madison's Youth Climate Action Team (YCAT) offers the following explanation as to why this is an even larger issue:
"[F-35s] pollute PFAs, which are man-made chemicals that cannot be removed from the soil and water in which they reside after being admitted. The chemical gives animals and humans who ingest the animals decreased fertility, increased chances of developing cancer, and hormone imbalances. Furthermore, the noise of the jets reaches 115 decibels; when exposed for nearly 30 seconds, hearing is damaged."
This is also an important issue to focus on because of how it targets underprivileged people and communities of color. Because of the airport's location on the North-East side of Madison, the people who live closest to the airport will be most affected by this pollution, and these are already poorer neighborhoods with many people of color. Lily Greisch adds "...I have been more driven to fight for issues that impact impoverished people disproportionately because the climate crisis' human impact mostly reaches underprivileged groups."
But it's also not just Madison students who have gotten involved in this issue! Lily says "Madison's Veterans For Peace chapter has been leading initiatives that address the military's role in the climate crisis. In my opinion, this is a topic that is not touched on enough by climate activists. Not only is the military the largest US polluter, but is an institution that promotes imperialism, civilian destruction, and war overall. That being said, advocating for the removal of F-35s in Truax Field [the airport in Madison] is something I feel activists must do. These harmful machines of destruction are in our backyard. Through our demonstrations, we are fighting for the complete removal of F-35s: do not fly, do not hold, do not use."