The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Here are 10 reasons this historic mobilization should give you hope for the future:
1. We're standing up to power — even when power fights back.
In South Africa, Break Free actions defied attempts to shut down their peaceful protests of the country's most powerful family, the Guptas and returned toxic coal financed by their companies right to their front door.
2. We're learning from the past.
Groups in Nigeria stood together at Oloibiri, the site of the first oil well in Nigeria, to demonstrate how the fossil fuels industry has left only pollution, not prosperity for the people. Later in the week, they continued to carry the message in Ogoni where oil has created such great exploitation and Ibeno, where Exxon wishes to drill for more offshore.
And in Turkey, where in the early 90s a mass movement in the Izmir region defeated plans for a massive expansion of coal, a new wave of organizing picked up the torch. 2000 people marched together and formed a red line around an illegal coal waste dump that is supporting the expansion of coal once more in the region.
3. We're led by powerful voices from Indigenous movements.
Everywhere, the original inhabitants of lands (that's now being used by the fossil fuel industry) are fighting back — and thousands of people are standing with them. For example in Canada, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation is fighting to defeat the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline on un-ceded Coastal Salish territory on the west coast. More than 800 people stood in solidarity with the T'Sleil-Waututh Nation by swarming the Kinder Morgan facility on both sides. They staged a massive kayak flotilla on the water and surrounded it with their bodies and art on land.
4. We're showing grit and resolve.
Break Free actions were not your typical protests. Some went more than 24 hours long: in Germany, Ende Gelaende occupied the rail lines leading from a lignite mine to a power station for over 48 hours, forcing the plant to power down. On the West Coast of the U.S., several dozen people blocked rail lines carrying "bomb trains" of crude oil to the regions' largest unmitigated source of carbon pollution — for two nights running.
5. We're taking on the biggest projects from land, water and air.
Indonesia digs up and exports more coal than any other country on Earth. During Break Free, 3,000 people joined an ear-splitting whistle action outside the president's office in Jakarta, calling for an end to coal — and then a few days later, others hung off of coal loaders in the port in Cirebon.
Newcastle, Australia is home to the world's largest coal port and thousands of protesters banded together to block all coal from entering or leaving the port over one day. Actions included an aerial blockade of coal loaders first thing in the morning, more than 60 people blocking a railway to the port and hundreds more afloat in the harbor to keep ships from passing.
6. We're connecting the dots between climate disaster and fossil fuels.
The Philippines is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries on Earth. They helped kick off Break Free with a 10,000 person march to oppose coal in Calaca, Batangas — at 6 a.m. in the morning. They had to start so early because of a devastating heat wave that is making life much harder to live:
7. We're building strong bridges.
In Albany, New York in the U.S., Big Oil wants to send hundreds more oil by rail "bomb trains" along tracks that run just feet from low income public housing and playgrounds. Residents there have been fighting back against the expanded infrastructure for years, but during Break Free as more than 1,000 people blocked the roads and rails with them, one local leader called the people standing with them as their "spinach"— adding power to the strength they've been showing for years.
8. We're building global power.
At one point on Saturday, May 14, major fossil fuel projects were being blocked on three continents — from the coal plant in Germany, to Brazil's largest coal power plant, to oil projects on both coasts of the U.S. and a major land and water blockade of a proposed tar sands terminal in Canada.
9. We're getting results.
Immediately following a mass action in Umuarama, Brazil during Break Free, the town council voted to ban fracking in their borders — just the latest victory for the Nao Fracking Brasil coalition that is keeping gas in the ground across the country.
At the same time, people in Germany were blocking the Schwarze Pumpe power station, forcing it to reduce capacity by 80 percent.
10. We're bigger than ever.
Break Free was the largest global civil disobedience campaign ever in the history of the climate movement. And as the planet continues to overheat, opposition will only grow from here.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
- New Evidence Suggests Ancient Egypt Was Brought Down by ... ›
- Climate Change Could Set Off Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Has 18 'Very High Threat' Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Discover 91 Volcanoes Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Sheet ... ›