Today’s news cycle suggests that climate activism is no more than showing up to a protest once in a while. Wave a sign around, believe in science, and you’re set. Politicians and people of note are given credit simply for acknowledging the fact that global warming is happening.
This type of rhetoric is dangerous. It leads to complacency. Complacency is what fossil fuel corporations want. They have defined the issue of climate devastation for us, making it much easier for small groups of people to routinely misrepresent and ignore data that will define the rest of our lives.
We choose to embrace reality. That’s why we’re taking part in the upcoming Global Climate Strike week. This historic week of action will include shutting down of traffic in Washington, D.C. on September 23.
We’re shutting down traffic because it’s time for “business-as-usual” as we know it to end. Business-as-usual has led to the devastation of the Bahamas. Business-as-usual has led to the greatest mass extinction event in human history. Business-as-usual will destroy the future of our children.
By disrupting business-as-usual all around the world, events like these will continue to remind unresponsive “leaders” that grassroots activists, and the youth of this world, are ready to engage in sustained acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against the private interests that are stalling immediate climate action.
In D.C., the political capital of the world, you don’t have to be a climate change denier to be exploiting the biggest threat of our lifetime. Many who label themselves “progressive” have suggested equally ineffective measures in the name of bipartisanship, public-private partnerships, incrementalism, and loyalty to various industries. As those politicians and pundits sink deeper into their donors’ pockets, the solutions they propose tend to weaken and become projected further into the future, making their lack of concrete positions—and fealty to the corporate sector—increasingly obvious.
In a 1993 speech titled “The World and Its Double,” Terence McKenna described the struggle to avoid a global catastrophe as turning a battleship around with a wooden oar. “It’s a very frustrating undertaking,” McKenna, a prolific ethnobotanist and author, who passed in 2000, noted, “but it’s not 100% certain that catastrophe is what we’re headed for, because we are not 100% unconscious.”
If we follow that thought, we know we’re going to need more than a few wooden oars. We’re going to need to make a massive shift and disrupt our political powers.
The truth is this: humanity has never faced a crisis of this magnitude and only immediate and transformative change can ensure our survival. Solutions to the climate crisis won’t sprout after the next commercial break, venture capital infusion, or greenwashing NGO initiative, but on the streets, as millions of us organize and demand that our governments hold polluters accountable, end fossil fuel extraction, and justly transition to a 100% renewable economy before it’s too late.
Such actions represent a clear choice between media-induced cynicism and apathy, and a future in which corrupt decision-makers are replaced with collective intelligence and wisdom.
Zhivko Illeieff is an independent writer and media maker interested in progressive politics, technology, and culture. You can read his articles at TheMeltAge.com.