"The world's top climate scientists are now ringing the alarm bell at a deafening volume because the time to act has virtually passed, yet it is as if the frequency of the chime is beyond the threshold of human hearing". - Clive Hamilton (Professor of Public Ethics, Australian National University)"Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State becomes lawless or, which is the same thing, corrupt.... Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of humankind." - Mohandes Gandhi
Those who are working to prevent a climate catastrophe have much to learn from the gut level passion on display at this action. Mountaintop activists are to be praised for not becoming entangled with the mainstream "environmental" groups inside the Beltway that have been seduced into a cynical and disastrous culture of endless compromise and appeasement. With treasuries expanded by a willingness to refrain from confronting corporate power and adopt only the most mild and politically "safe" stances, groups like Environmental Defense Fund have stolen the limelight from genuine grassroots activists and presented themselves to the public as the "voice of environmental protection". With their much larger budgets, such groups have pushed the grassroots activists off of the media radar screen.
The Unique Challenge of Climate Activism
Although both grassroots movements fight a common foe, climate activists are also dealing with another significant challenge not faced by their mountaintop counterparts. The monumental planet-wide devastation that awaits humanity if these corporations are allowed to press the climate system beyond its tipping point is much more difficult to convey to the public. Although the signs of climate breakdown are already appearing, they are not as immediately tangible as images of explosions or moonscapes in West Virginia. What makes the climate threat so uniquely dangerous is that by the time the impacts are in full swing, the tipping point will already have been crossed and the breakdown of life support systems will escalate out of human control.
Scientists warn that tipping points are already rapidly approaching. Loss of reflective ice is causing more heat to be absorbed by open water. Ocean acidification is threatening critical organisms in the food chain. Evidence is mounting that an ominous "methane time bomb" is being triggered.
As the hourglass of humanity runs out, the people of the world have failed to mobilize on the level necessary to prevent catastrophe. While scientists remind us of the mass extinction of life already caused by previous climate disruptions, the great bulk of humanity appears to be deaf and proceeding with "business as usual". We stand at a crossroad. We must either recognize and confront the forces in our society driving the destruction and holding us in bondage, or the great experiment known as human civilization may well pass away from the earth.
Three environmental networks that have not been captured by the appeasement culture of DC are Greenpeace, 350.org, and RAN. Recently, their leaders issued a joint statement calling for a strong increase in direct action in response to the collapse of climate legislation. They ask for ideas on how to facilitate this.
The truth is that those of us living within industrial society have become seduced by the power which accrues from the burning of fossil fuels, and entrapped by the destructive consequences. We have created an entire social structure which bows at the altar of fossil fuel and have in essence entered into a massive "Faustian bargain" with the gods of oil and coal.
At a point when human survival itself is at stake, time rapidly running out, and powerful entrenched forces actively assisting the disintegration, there is an overwhelming need for clarity of vision in the formation of any movement capable of turning back such a juggernaut. Those entities that have positioned themselves to make enormous profit from our addiction will not yield their economic dominance voluntarily. There is a profound and urgent need for spiritual battle, and the most powerful tool we have is nonviolent resistance.