Giovanni Tamacas starved himself for 10 days in the US capital to protest about a ‘criminally complicit’ government’s inaction.
Emily Holden in Washington
Fri 9 Aug 2019 02.00 EDT
Food shortages, social disruption and riots. That’s the future 19-year-old Giovanni Tamacas envisioned during the 10 days he starved himself in the nation’s capital in a hunger strike protest at the lack of action to thwart the climate crisis.
A student at the University of California in San Diego, Tamacas spent seven days baking in the sun in front of the White House and three more at an American Civil Liberties Union advocacy institute. He also staged a “die-in” in front of the US Capitol building.
Tamacas’s mother is from Vietnam, and his father is from El Salvador – two places expected to be hit hard by the chaotic climate changes that will come from rapidly rising temperatures.
About a week into his strike, Tamacas could only sleep four or five hours a day. One night he got up to refill his water bottle and collapsed from dizziness.
Tamacas was visiting Washington DC in the middle of a historic heatwave, with temperatures some days feeling as hot as 110F. Global data shows this July was the hottest ever recorded.
The heat and physical weakness compounded Tamacas’s anxiety over the climate crisis.
“I did cry. And I did feel extreme frustration and hunger and just overwhelming feelings of sadness at times,” he said. “But at the end of the day I remembered what I was fighting for and that’s what kept me going”
People from a wide spectrum of political affiliations approached Tamacas in front of the White House, he said. One called him an idiot. But others were shocked when he explained the urgency of the climate emergency, as well as an ongoing extinction crisis.