Quantcast
Climate

How to Prevent Worldwide Climate Catastrophe

What is the relationship between organizing to slow, stop and reverse the climate crisis, a very big job with a very close deadline and organizing to bring together a unified movement against our oppressive system that links people concerned about climate, racial justice, women’s and LGBT rights, labor rights, peace, social and economic justice, equality and more?

This is the third column I have written on this subject. My first one, last November, was in the form of an Open Letter to Naomi Klein in connection with how she addressed this issue in her wonderful book, “This Changes Everything.” The second was written in mid-June, with a main focus on the importance of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and what this amazing development might teach us about this question.

This third column is the result of having read, “FLOOD the System: a VISION for movement momentum,” put together by Rising Tide North America (RTNA) to promote anti-system activities this fall leading up to the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris. I’m a member of one organization and one beginning-network that are supportive of the Flood the System general idea and that are connected with it. Because of that, I finally made the time to read FLOOD the System yesterday.

There’s a lot of good stuff in the 80-page booklet, including some creative original graphics. I’d encourage others to check it out by clicking here.

However, I came away from reading it feeling that the position it takes on the climate organizing/anti-system organizing question is one I disagree with. Two pages toward the beginning crystallized it for me.

On page 12, in a “History of FLOOD the System” section, RTNA explains that this new initiative emerged after the People’s Climate March and Flood Wall Street action in New York City in September 2014. These were very big actions: hundreds of thousands in the march and thousands engaging in civil disobedience on Wall Street the next day. Afterwards, “as we talked to various groups, the consistent piece of feedback was the need for Flood the System to be much broader than just about escalation within the climate movement, a need for an escalation framework that addressed deep root causes and could connect with and be owned by members of the migrant justice, racial justice, gender justice, labor and other powerful and growing movements in the U.S. and Canada. The climate movement has a history of seeing the climate crisis as a giant umbrella issue under which many other issues could fit. Flood the System is attempting to break this pattern.”

What this mean in practice, as projected on page 13, is this: “In November, right before the opening of the international summit to pave the way for capitalism in the coming decades [the Paris United Nations Climate Conference], we will engage in actions targeting the institutions that threaten our collective survival. Banks, immigration detention centers, rail and pipelines, extraction sites, police stations, government buildings will be overwhelmed as we expose the root causes of injustice in all its forms.”

Read page 1 

My Perspective:

First, RTNA is to be commended for its efforts to advance the movement, as far as its politics, its willingness to take stronger action and its breadth. This is not easy work and it is to their credit that they are continuing to work to make these actions in the fall as successful as possible. What they are trying to do is no small thing.

However, it seems as if RTNA’s position on the climate crisis and what to do about it is something like, “the only solution is revolution,” that climate/climate justice activists should put all of our eggs in that one basket.

I don’t see it that way. I think there are two distinct, though interrelated, tasks for those of us who

1. Understand how close to climate tipping points we are, close to developments that will make it extremely unlikely that we can prevent full-on, world-wide catastrophe.

2.  And who, also believe that the root cause of the climate crisis, as Pope Francis himself has said, is a system based on greed, domination, inequality and injustice.

One task is to build a climate/climate justice movement, a climate movement increasingly putting justice issues at the center of its work but which has as its focus day-after-day campaigning to weaken the power of the fossil fuel industry, to advance renewables and efficiency, especially locally-based rooftop solar and other locally-based renewables, to fight deforestation, etc. And the Paris conference is one short-term front of that movement. I believe that we should support efforts that are being made to push that conference to go as far as it can go, understanding that, the world’s governments being what they are and the influence of the fossil fuel corporatists over so many of them being what it is, it is very unlikely, impossible really, that the world’s ecosystem and all of its life forms will get in Paris what we need. We must be prepared to use whatever comes out of Paris to keep building the climate movement and the overall international people’s movement. No false illusions.

The other task is to link growing numbers of climate activists and organizations with “members of the migrant justice, racial justice, gender justice, labor and other powerful and growing movements,” building a multi-issue, intersectional, transformational mass movement for power to the people and not the “billionaire class,” as Bernie Sanders calls it.

What is so positive and exciting about this historic moment, 2015, the time we are living in, is that both of these movements are growing and there is interaction among them, not so much in an organizational sense but in a cultural/social sense, in the interpersonal connections that exist and will continue to grow and deepen. Building and strengthening these connections is strategic work right now.

But we need to be clear that both are needed. There must be a movement which has as its primary task work to prevent worldwide climate catastrophe. And there must be a movement of movements that makes the links and connections and builds consciously toward a world where love, justice and equality are truly the underlying operating principles of people’s lives and society’s institutions.

Ted Glick has been an activist, organizer and revolutionary since 1968. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Bernie Sanders Draws 28,000 in Portland, Largest Turnout for Any Presidential Candidate This Year

Fox News Asks Sen. Graham: How Can Republicans ‘Trust’ You After Working on Climate Bill?

Obama’s Clean Power Plan Tips the Scales Toward Successful Paris Climate Talks

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
Pipe being transported to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Photo credit: Mark Levisay / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Work Restarts as Opponents Decry 'Rushed Decisions'

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruled Monday that work could resume on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which opponents call "unnecessary and a boondoggle," the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

Work on the controversial pipeline halted last month after a federal appeals court vacated two permits required for the project to complete its 600 mile route from West Virginia, through Virginia, to North Carolina.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
zodebala / iStock

Investigators Find Slave Labor on Starbucks-Certified Brazil Coffee Plantation

By Daniela Penha and Roberto Cataldo, Translator

This story was produced via a co-publishing partnership between Mongabay and Repórter Brasil and can be read in Portuguese here.

At first sight, the Córrego das Almas farm in Piumhi, in rural Minas Gerais state, seems to be a model property. "No slave or forced labor is allowed," reads one of several signs that display international certifications—including one linked to the U.S. based company Starbucks corporation.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Oil and gas companies flare natural gas that cannot be processed or sold. Varodrig / Wikimedia Commons

Trump Lets Fracking Companies Release More Climate-Warming Methane

As expected, the U.S. Department of the Interior on Tuesday released a final rule that reverses Obama-era restrictions on methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

President Obama's 2016 methane waste rule, which never went into effect, required fossil fuel companies on tribal and public lands to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that's about 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It called on drilling operators to capture leaking and vented methane and to update their leak-detection equipment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Smoke from the Carr Fire in northern California, July 2018. Eric Coulter, Bureau of Land Management / Public Domain

U.S. Air Pollution Is 'Completely Outrageous'

By Juanita Constible

How do you think the U.S. stacks up against other countries for protecting its citizens from the health threats of air pollution?

That's the question Christiana Figueres, one of the world's leading climate warriors, posed at last week's Global Climate and Health Forum, an official side event of the Global Climate Action Summit. The answer, said Ms. Figueres, is "completely outrageous."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics

Top EPA Watchdog Since 2010 Announces Departure

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) internal watchdog organization announced plans to leave for a job outside the federal government Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

Arthur A. Elkins Jr., who has held the position of Inspector General since he was appointed by former president Barack Obama in 2010, will spend his last day at the agency Oct. 12, The Hill reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
A man outside his flooded home in Lokoja in the Kogi state of Nigeria following heavy rains there. SODIQ ADELAKUN / AFP / Getty Images

100 Dead in Nigeria Following Severe Flooding

Nigeria declared a national disaster in four states Monday in response to deadly flooding that National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesperson Sani Datti partly attributes to climate change, CNN reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
L: Michael Coghlan / Flickr R: Coloured chest X-ray of a male patient showing evidence of a mesothelioma lung cancer, which is usually associated with exposure to asbestos. Zephyr / Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Report: 140 House Members Vote Against Chemical Safeguards Every Time

The Environmental Working Group Action Fund, the political arm of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), released a first-ever report that scores how each member of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on chemical policy and safety.

The scorecard shows that 140 House members voted against chemical safeguards every time, while 149 members consistently voted for chemical safety protections.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
grobery / CC BY SA 2.0 (Flickr)

What’s for Dinner? A Preview of the People, Process and Politics Updating Federal Dietary Guidelines

By Sarah Reinhardt

Months behind schedule, two federal departments have officially kicked off the process for writing the 2020-2025 iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Updated and reissued every five years, these guidelines are the nation's most comprehensive and authoritative set of nutrition recommendations. And although the process is meant to be science-based and support population health—and has historically done so, with some notable exceptions—there are plenty of reasons to believe that the Trump administration is preparing to pitch a few curveballs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!