Fifty-three years ago, on April 22nd, 1970, the first official Earth Day was observed. Twenty million Americans took to the streets in a collective effort to bring attention to decades of industrial development, polluted waterways, oil spills, expansion of highways and wildlife extinction.

The significance of this day has changed a lot since then. Collective action has shifted to individual responsibility, and even further to billionaire saviorism. But as the planet continues to heat up, the calls to action have only grown stronger.

Not everyone will feel the effects of this crisis equally. Frontline communities, those living on the frontlines of this crisis who are people of color, and economically disenfranchised will suffer disproportionately. Those with resources can and will adapt. The greatest wealth hoarding offenders, billionaires, are actively pushing out false narratives that they have the solutions that will bring us all with them to their dystopian paradise.

There is no way to sugar coat it. The urgency of this crisis is real and very present in the devastating effects it has on peoples’ lives.

Demystifying Billionaire Funding

The climate crisis can feel insurmountable on top of all the other concurrent crises that we as a nation are navigating – racial, economic, gender, anti-LGBTQ, anti-democracy, and housing to name a few. However, all these crises are connected and a result of our exploitive, profit-driven system. It is this same system that allows billionaires to hoard wealth and power at the expense of those on the frontlines of these interconnected crises.

As most of us worry about surviving these crises, too many self-absorbed billionaires are rushing to play the hero, using their wealth to position themselves as “experts” on any number of angles to the debate. Few are embarrassed by their overpromises that open markets and technological innovation will solve all our climate-related problems. Ironically, the business and philanthropic investments of many of these billionaires often play a very active role in the worsening of these issues. Many are largely interested in “solutions” that are either their own or aligned with their worldview. Worse yet, those preferences often come with extensive personal benefits and profit margins.

Despite their individual role in contributing to the climate crisis, each of these billionaires spend a tiny fraction of their own money on addressing the issue. An even smaller percentage of the money given to combatting the crisis even goes to climate justice groups.

The truth is that no amount of positive press or stated best intentions eliminates the fact that many billionaires in the climate funding space actively benefit from the same extractive system that their efforts claim to fight against. The wealth that they hold has been extracted from the same communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis that depend on their philanthropy to survive. Their “expert” status has less to do with solving the climate crisis than it does with exerting power and control.

Read the full article about frontline workers addressing the climate crisis by Senowa Mize-Fox at National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.