Joy Horowitz
Journalist, Author, Teacher
Santa Monica, California, United States

Remembering a Refinery Explosion in California

“The baton will be passed, so we neither forget nor neglect to understand how the future is informed by the past.”

Dear Future Ones.

Tonight, I'm going to a City Council meeting in Torrance, Ca. to hear how residents are worried about the future of the Exxon Mobil refinery there. It blew up about six months ago. The explosion shook houses miles away and sent smoke, ash and flames into the sky. Then again last month, there was a dangerous leak in the middle of the night of potentially deadly hydrofluoric acid.

Rather than admit liability, Exxon Mobil has done what most energy companies do: it has evaded government investigators and denied a problem exists. A few weeks ago, it sold the refinery to a new owner. And on and on it goes. Deny, delay, obfuscate.

I tell you this story, because this is part of the history of climate change and why we've been so achingly slow to deal with it. Corporate greed and decades of disinformation have gotten in the way of the truth. Now we know better. We know the oceans are warming, the glaciers are melting and our planet is under siege after years of bad choices over fossil fuels.

So, now in 2015, I'm writing to say Thank You. Thank you for your willingness to do the hard work, to not look the other way, to stay strong with your commitment to what matters most, namely the future of our children and theirs. Thank you for your part in making the Paris climate talks, which I view with both a sense of urgency and hope, as a real starting point of change for the Earth.

That is why, when I sit through tonight's City Council meeting in Torrance -- listening to more lies and assurances that all is well when people's health and well-being are at stake from the continued dangers of fossil fuel production -- I'll be there with my journalism students who will write about it. And they'll tell their children and grandchildren about it. The baton will be passed, so we neither forget nor neglect to understand how the future is informed by the past.