for those of you putting out effort on the climate action today, I wish you all the best. I hope this is the moment that we look back at someday as the time when the tide turned. Go get’m. Change the trajectory of human civilization.
The Climate Strike is really large. I think this was the biggest protest I have seen in Bonn, Germany, except maybe for the climate demonstration in 2001 when the UN climate negotiations were in Bonn and the entire world came to Bonn. This time there are protests in all the larger cities around us.
By the way if anyone would like to be notified of new TAMINO posts on Twitter, I have made a Twitter accout:
The Climate Strikes throughout Australia were impressive, but in addition, Germany and some of the other 130+ nations with sizable climate strikes are noted in this link from Common Dreams- https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/09/20/pictures-and-video-what-biggest-day-climate-action-planetary-history-looks-millions
It was very cool to see so many out at the Climate Strikes in Australia. I was in Canberra for a couple of days for work so attended during lunchtime.
I guess the turnout in Oz was boosted by having such an obviously-useless government. The sad thing is that that was voted in only a few months ago suggesting that nearly half the people (no doubt skewed to the older part of the population) in Oz still don’t get it. I saw an Andrew Bolt Sky broadcast (on youtube) illustrating what sensible Australians are up against. Astonishing to see such blatant denial on a mainstream channel. (I had heard of the guy before, but never seen his schtick). It’s hard to wrest govt from the hands of a fossil establishment hell-bent on bringing us all down with them. I presume XR is growing fast in Oz too?
We had some decently-attended events here in Columbia, South Carolina. But we’re still far from the kind of numbers that will really make a political difference. Right now, the main gains are still building the activist community and learning to organize better. But I think the strike process did a lot to put people together, which is the only way to really build movement strength.
[Response: It also attracted a lot of attention.]
Inline: It also attracted a lot of attention.
Sadly, the local strikes in Columbia did not. There were no reporters present at either event, with the noble exception of a correspondent for the University of South Carolina student newspaper.
To do better, one needs really big numbers–last spring there was a teacher ‘strike day’ which drew 10,000 or so to the statehouse. They couldn’t ignore that. But to get those kinds of numbers, one needs passion and organization both–which is why we should a) be connected to groups trying to make a difference, and b) should be out there when things go down.
It’s going to take more than inconvenience to change the trajectory of human civilization (if that can even be done). I would suggest review of the Soweto Uprising in South Africa where reactionary forces killed hundreds of people involved in a largely non-violent rebellion
or a review of the US struggle to abolish slavery in the time before the Civil War.
I think General Haig commented on the marches against the war: let them march as long as they pay their taxes.
Frederick Douglass famously laid out the relationship between oppressors and oppressed in this way:
“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
General Haig’s model has been clearly operative in the US and was readily apparent as the US attacked Iraq as millions around the world got in the streets to demonstrate for peace.
Demonstrations will not get the job done. Inconvenience will need to rise to the level of insurrection to force change. Mario Savio laid it out clearly: “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”
It’s massively inconvenient to have bodies thrown on the gears, the wheels, the levers of an odious machine. Anything less is likely to be unsuccessful and will be somewhat tolerated as long as taxes get paid.
But, hey, what do I know? I could be wrong about all that. Maybe the nations of the world will all hear the generational justice demands of the young now and change their ways. It could happen.
Mike, the level of “inconvenience” necessary depends upon the opposition. It may take bodies, it may not. But what I am urging is the we start ratcheting up the level of inconvenience for the powers that be. If we can’t simply get people to march, then we aren’t going to get people to charge barricades or whatever you imagine the next step to be. Start at the bottom of the ladder–which is at least attending events, not just bitching and whining online.
no argument from me regarding ratcheting up the level of inconvenience. I have been organizing, setting up and attending events for decades. It made a big impression on me that after more than a decade of climate change work the country elected a president who denies it’s a problem.
I think I do more than bitch and whine online, when I talk about these issues online, I work to educate the climate activists that we have to measure results in something more than numbers that attend an event, or movement in polling regarding the serious problem we face, we need to stop the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans. As long as that number continues to go up, we are failing. The number has to stop rising and start going down or we are toast. To date, all activist efforts have not changed the trajectory of CO2 in the atmosphere.
It’s way past time to ratchet up the level of inconvenience. A few years ago, I followed a discussion about blocking interstate highways on business days, during business hours. The consensus view was that it would cause people to resent climate activists more than they do now and that it would likely provoke drivers to run over activists attempting to get to work or to essential errands and would be counterproductive. The consensus view was that we needed bigger signs and more people waving them in the “protest zones” where waving signs are allowed.
A few questions for you, Doc:
1. How many climate events have you organized in the past ten years?
2. What do you think ratcheting up the inconvenience would look like? Are you currently organizing any events either at the current level of agitation or in ratcheted-up mode?
Keep your eyes on the prize, buddy. If CO2 in atmosphere and oceans is not moving toward zero increase in a clearly visible way, we are not being effective.
While I do wish the kids and their supporters every success in their endeavours, this is the latest from the WMO:
Wishing won’t do jack. Find a way in which you personally can be “inconvenient.”
Talk to your neighbors, family, friends–chance-met strangers. Write your reps. Blog. Join or organize groups acting up on climate; many such are just a search away. And ACT!
Apologies if you are already doing some or all of those things.
But “wishes” are no more helpful, nor appropriate at this time, than the proverbial “thoughts and prayers” ritually offered up to the families of gun violence victims by obstructionist politicians.
[Response: YES!!! Talk about it. With family and friends, with strangers, with politicians. TALK ABOUT IT!]
No doubt they plan to burn all of it, whether we march or don’t:
Of course they do, joe! Did you think that was news?
And no, just marching won’t stop them. But it is a useful tactic for some of the reasons discussed above. And it’s a pre-requisite, more or less, to more ‘inconvenient actions,’ such as those now being undertaken by groups like Extinction Rebellion, or the ‘shut down DC’ campaign:
Ah, I see what you mean. No apologies are necessary Doc, but I’ve been doing most all of those things for the last 12 years or so, ever since
I read about it first.
Two years ago I suffered a brain stem stroke and things slowed up a little, but just a little. I still talk and read and write about. Much to the annoyance of some of my friends and family, but they’re getting the message all the better these days.
wishing you all the best, Joe. I acknowledge your work as you describe it. I also kinda aged out of my activist circles, but that was generally about health issues for my spouse/best friend, who just couldn’t do it anymore. Falling down in crowds can be both inconvenient and dangerous. Good luck with your brain stem stroke. My spouse and I have been really putting in our time on physical therapy the last few years and it is helping us stay at least somewhat active in our golden years.
do you have time to unpack and review the recent WMO report?
Joe says, “No doubt they plan to burn all of it, whether we march or don’t:
This looks like the action of an odious machine. Talking about the odious machine is clearly tolerated. HIV activist organized under the name Act Out when they were dying and the US government was not interested in serious funding of HIV research and treatment. They could have chosen Speak Out or Talk Out, but they chose Act Out.
But, sure, talk about it. My friends, family and acquaintances are either in agreement with me on this or they are avoiding me now as they jet and cruise around the world.
Good talk, thanks. I feel ever-so-slightly better now.
Fwiw – the last series of events that I organized were the annual king tide events in Olympia. For years before that I was organizing and setting up events around south sound and particularly on the Washington State Capitol steps. Here’s a notice for one from 2013: http://blogs.evergreen.edu/mesweekly/2013/01/07/climate-crisis-rally/
My personal favorite event that I organized was a zombie march on the Capital building on a Friday the 13th. When we hit the steps we were joined by members of the Artesian Rumble Arkestra and we did the Monster Mash with climate action lyrics. The security forces of the Capitol were quite anxious about a mob of shuffling zombies advancing on the Capitol. I helped organize one event at the Capitol building where a rogue group occupied the capitol building and held it for about 30 hours as I recall. I organized an event where a group of activists gathered in the gallery of the Senate when it was in session. Signs and protests from the gallery were not allowed. Our group stood up, turned their backs on the Senate and removed shirts to show t shirts that I stenciled, the message across the backs of the protesters read SHAME ON YOU. Eventually the State got tired of issuing permits for events to me because our events were too inconvenient for them.
I wrote primarily climate pieces for the Olympia radical paper Works in Progress for year until I got pushed out for not being radical enough, for sometimes letting moderate to liberal Dem voices be heard in that paper.
I was the visible face of the printing of a spoof of The Olympian – our version was the OlypmpiUn and it was all climate stories. I got chased by the attorneys for the McClatchy paper chain for a while on that one before I was able to get away without some shuffling and apologizing to avoid a suit for the tort of false light – something I had never heard of, but the McClatchy attorneys knew about it.
So, when you talk about bitching and whining online, please leave me out of that conversation. I did years in the trenches organizing events, buying megaphones, portable power supplies to run PA systems, renting rooms for organizing actions and events, etc. I watched the Obama administration talk a lot and do as little as it could to address climate change and at the end of that energetic run, I watched the electoral college put Trump in the White House.
So, sure. Talk to everybody that you can about climate change. You can even talk about being inconvenient to the odious machine that is driving our CO2 numbers into uncharted territory. But keep in mind, lots of us have been at this for years and we don’t see much results from all the talk. When the discussion turns to action, the talkers usually want to keep talking, waving bigger signs, etc. I am simply not going to do any more of that and I resent anyone who suggests that my part in climate activism has been whining and bitching online. I have done that and a lot more.
My old car was remarkably and specifically undependable and was known for breaking down on the rail line leading out of the Port of Olympia. This happened in the era when fracking sands were being imported through the POO and heading to North Dakota. I was able to determine that between the poor starting characteristics of the vehicle and the tendency for its parking brake to seize, that it would sometimes take as long as ten minutes for me and the train folks to push and pull the vehicle off the tracks. I still don’t know for sure why that car was so prone to break down on the Port of Olympia tracks, but it frequently lost power in that particular neighborhood.
As I recall, another group were more inconvenient to the POO than me and my poor old VW – that group set up an encampment on the tracks and held that spot for an inconvenient amount of time. Read about that here:
the SOLIDARITY shirts in this picture were part of my stash of message shirts that we used over and over, but they were seized and not returned when the authorities swept us off the tracks.
I, for one, am taking heart from the youth movement against AGW, primarily because it appears to have caught the public’s (or at least the media’s) attention. So have the last few years of record-breaking severe weather. A third encouraging sign is the “Covering Climate Now” initiative. As announced by the Guardian on Sept. 15th:
This week, ahead of the UN climate summit on 23 September, the Covering Climate Now partners have pledged to increase the volume and visibility of their climate coverage in the first large-scale collaboration of the partnership. The Guardian is making a selection of its climate coverage available to partners for free to help publications without dedicated environment desks serve their audiences.
In addition to the Graun, 250 media outlets including the likes of CNN and Nature are participating. I’m prepared to believe putting AGW above the fold more often will help. I’d just like it to go on for more than a week, so climate realism doesn’t fall below the din of denial again.
[Response: The Guardian is one of the best media outlets for reporting about climate change. I look forward to more coverage, more often, from more media outlets.
And Greta is my hero. Make America Greta again!]