Quantcast
Climate

The Emergency Climate Movement

We are living in a state of planetary emergency. To have a chance of averting the collapse of civilization and the destruction of the natural world, we must mobilize our society on the scale of World War II to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions [1] at wartime speed. The fact that we have already heated the world to such dangerous levels and show little sign of stopping, is evidence of widespread institutional failure. We cannot expect anyone else to save us. We must organize to save ourselves.

The Mainstream Environmental Movement: Avoiding Climate Truth

The aforementioned truth—while daunting and overwhelming— has the potential to be utterly transformative, for individuals and for society as a whole. Yet it has been too often soft-pedaled by environmental organizations and communicators who advocate incrementalism over boldness, vagueness over specificity and personal behavior change over systemic change. These strategies, in an attempt to be palatable and politically “realistic,” are abdicating the climate movement’s greatest strategic asset: the truth. Embracing the truth was at the heart of Gandhi’s Satyagraha campaign, the Civil Rights Movement, the Velvet Revolution and the vast majority of triumphant social movements through history.

The Emergency Climate Movement: Embracing Climate Truth

In recent months, a new, increasingly powerful segment of the climate movement has been taking shape. A coalition of those who openly recognize the existential threat of the climate crisis and advocate for a solution that is scientifically realistic and morally tenable: emergency mobilization.

San Diego Rally for Mobilization, March, 15. Photo Credit: Jerry Phelps

The Climate Mobilization (TCM), a one-year old group that I founded and direct, has been a central part of this hopeful shift away from carbon gradualism—slowly reducing emissions while effectively maintaining business as usual. Philip Sutton, a member of TCM’s advisory board, puts this shift in perspective in his excellent paper, Striking Targets:

“Over those last 27 years, while all the research, activism and negotiation has been going on, the climate has actually become dangerous. So, the key goal now must be to provide, at the 11th hour, real protection for the vulnerable people, species and ecosystems of the world. The principal struggle must shift, from the clash between no action and some action, to the crucial struggle between those who want to constrain reform to levels that are not too disruptive and those who want action that will provide highly effective and timely protection.”

In other words, isolated actions such as the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, putting a price on carbon or even policies aiming for net zero emissions by 2050, are no longer sufficient. Perhaps if we had implemented these measures 30 years ago, they would have been adequate to maintain a safe climate. But that time has passed. Only emergency action—a mobilization of our entire economy and society—will protect us now. We must stop emissions in years, not decades. It is time to align our demands and language with the truth.

In June, Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr. and Tom Weis, leaders in the climate movement and members of TCM’s advisory board, echoed TCM’s call for zero emissions by 2025 by writing in "America’s Zero Emissions Imperative":

“Some will no doubt call this bold national goal unrealistic, but they would underestimate the innovative genius and social conscience of the American people. America has a long and proud history of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds (consider World War II, Apollo program and Abolitionist movement). What is unrealistic is thinking we can put off for decades action that is desperately needed now to ensure our survival as a species.”

Tom Weis followed up on that article by writing an open letter to President Obama, calling on him to set reducing U.S. emissions to net zero by 2025—through an “all hands on deck societal mobilization at wartime speed”—as the U.S.’s commitment in the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris.

This letter is the single strongest display of public support for emergency climate mobilization that has ever been made. Signers include Lester Brown, Terry Tempest Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Ed Begley, Jr.David Suzuki, Winona LaDuke, Tim DeChristopher, Yeb Sano, Josh Fox, IPCC Coordinating Lead Author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the former chair of the Australian Coal Association, the founder of the Woods Hole Research Center, the founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the founder of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, the former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and the four co-founders of The Climate Mobilization.

Read page 1

The Climate Mobilization: Catalyzing the Emergency Climate Movement

I developed the idea for the Pledge to Mobilize—a denial-fighting, power-building tool—while earning my PhD in clinical psychology and working as a psychotherapist. Working with a team of co-founders, allies and consultants all over the world, we turned an idea into a reality and formed The Climate Mobilization. The pledge is a one-page document that any American—and, since we have expanded internationally, anyone on earth—can sign, it is a tool designed to help people fully face climate truth and channel the deep emotions that arise into effective political engagement.

New York City Mobilizers, Aug. 15 after a Teach-In in Battery Park City

The pledge is a public acknowledgment that the climate crisis threatens the collapse of civilization, as well as call for the U.S. to initiate a WWII-scale climate mobilization to eliminate our national net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and enlist in an international effort to mobilize off fossil fuels and restore a safe global climate. The pledge also contains a set of political and personal commitments. Signers agree to support elected officials and political candidates who have pledged to mobilize with their vote, as well as time or money and to spread the truth of climate change and the Pledge to Mobilize, to others.

The pledge encourages active hope and political empowerment. Using the WWII metaphor, we illustrate a time in which the U.S. successfully mobilized against an existential crisis. The pledge challenges people to grow their awareness, cope with the reality and become active agents for effective change by spreading climate truth and sharing the Pledge to Mobilize with others.

The Pledge to Mobilize has been signed by more than 2,400 Americans and international allies including Winona LaDuke, Marshall Saunders, the Founder of Citizens Climate Lobby; Catharine Thomasson, Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility; Randy Hayes, the Founder of Rainforest Action Network; Paul Gilding, former head of Greenpeace and author of The Great Disruption.

The pledge has also been gaining momentum with political candidates and elected officials. Recent signers include: Des Moines Mayor Frank Cowie, Iowa Legislator Dan Kelley, San Jose City Councilor Ash Kalra, Des Moines City Councilor Skip Moore, San Fransicso Mayoral candidate Amy Farah Weiss and Florida congressional candidate Alina Valdes. Councilman Ash Kalra and Mayoral candidate Amy Farah Weis can be seen taking the Pledge to Mobilize on video.

We have recently started a Mobilize Iowa campaign in which we take the Pledge to Mobilize directly to the 2016 presidential candidates. Our current nation-wide initiative is the Moral Mobilization, which will run from now—coinciding with the Pope’s visit—through the Paris talks. The Moral Mobilization seeks to amplify and concretize Pope Francis’ message of “ecological conversion.” During Moral Mobilization events, community leaders will read from the Encyclical and publicly Pledge to Mobilize as they call on Congress, the White House and all levels of government, to do the same.

The Emergency Climate Movement is just getting started. We understand that everything we love is on the line and that inaction or insufficient action will lead to unfathomable catastrophe. In response, we are redefining “realistic” to what is necessary and true. We hope you join us.

For a more in-depth version of these arguments, in a beautifully illustrated PDF, see The Climate Mobilization’s Manifesto: The Transformative Power of Climate Truth.

For the scientific case for Emergency Mobilization see RECOUNT by David Spratt and the Case for Mobilization by Ezra Silk and Margaret Klein Salamon.

[1] When I say "Net zero emissions,” I mean that, it may not be possible to eliminate all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the short timeline that The Climate Mobilization calls for. If so, the emissions that remain will be balanced out through carbon-negative techniques such as reforestation, permaculture and biochar. This vision of "net zero emissions" does not include corporate land grabs or schemes in which the U.S. discounts its own emissions through foreign carbon sequestration. Further, it is a stepping stone to the U.S. eliminating all remaining GHG emissions and becoming carbon negative. For more information, see the Pledge to Mobilize or the Case for Mobilization.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

China Cap-and-Trade Program Not What the Climate Needs

20 Best Ways to #SaveThePlanetIn4Words

Pope Francis’ Words to Congress: A Rallying Call for Climate Action

6 Songs That Inspired a Better World

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
Ambrosia artemisiifolia, common ragweed. PLOS ONE

Allergen Alert: Ragweed Is Spreading to New Regions

By Marlene Cimons

Cristina Stinson never had an allergic reaction to ragweed until after she started working with it. "I think the repeated exposure to the pollen is what did it," she said. It also didn't help that her community is chock-full of it. "There is plenty of ragweed in my neighborhood," she said. "In fact, it grows right outside my door."

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A sperm whale that washed up in Indonesia's Wakatobi National Park had plastic bottles, bags and cups in its belly. @WWF_ID / Kartika Sumolang

13 Pounds of Plastic Found in Dead Sperm Whale

Yet another whale has suffered from plastic pollution. A sperm whale that washed up dead in a national park in Indonesia had nearly 13 pounds of plastic waste in its stomach, park officials told the Associated Press.

Researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the park's conservation academy uncovered more than 1,000 other pieces of plastic, including 115 plastic cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, 2 flip-flops and a nylon sack.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The first smoke from the Camp Fire arrived in Ukiah and turned the daylight red. Bob Dass / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Winds and Wildfires in California: 4 Factors to Watch That Increase Danger

By Brenda Ekwurzel

Before we dive into the science behind the four factors specific to the California Santa Ana winds, let's review the current situation in California and wildfire disaster risks in general.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
A woman stands amidst the ruins of her home following Hurricane Michael; if action isn't taken on climate change, some places could face up to six such disasters at once. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Tropics Could Face Six Climate Disasters at Once by 2100

In a year that saw record-breaking heat waves, record-breaking hurricanes and record-breaking wildfires, it's hard to imagine how the future could look any more like a disaster movie than the present. But that is exactly what researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa have predicted in a study published in Nature Climate Change Monday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Zinke tours Paradise, Calif. Nov. 14 with Governor Jerry Brown and FEMA Administrator Brock Long. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Zinke Blames ‘Radical Environmentalists’ for Historic California Wildfire

In an interview with Breitbart News on Sunday, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke blamed "radical environmentalists" for the wildfires that have devastated California in recent weeks, The Huffington Post reported.

"I will lay this on the foot of those environmental radicals that have prevented us from managing the forests for years. And you know what? This is on them," he said in the interview.

You can listen to the whole thing here:

The remarks come as California has suffered the deadliest blaze in the state's history. The death toll from the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise in Northern California, has now risen to 79. Around 1,000 people are still listed as missing, and the fire is now 70 percent contained, according to an Associated Press report Monday.

California Governor Jerry Brown blamed climate change in a statement made last weekend.

"Managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change, and those who deny that definitely are contributing to the tragedies that we are witnessing and will continue to witness," Brown said.

Regardless, Zinke has remained consistent in pointing the finger at forest management. His current criticisms echo his remarks following other fires this August, in which he said the increasingly frequent and violent blazes were the result of inadequate forest management, and not climate change. He continued in that vein during Sunday's interview:

"In many cases, it's these radical environmentalists who want nature to take its course. We have dead and dying timber. We can manage it using best science, best practices. But to let this devastation go on year after year after year is unacceptable, it's not going to happen. The president is absolutely engaged."

President Donald Trump has indeed vehemently blamed forest mismanagement ever since the recent batch of fires broke out, even threatening at one point to withhold federal funding if the forests weren't managed properly. During a visit to California Saturday to survey damage, Trump brought up forest management again, suggesting that the problem in California was that the forests were not raked enough.

"You look at other countries where they do it differently, and it's a whole different story," he said, as CNN reported. "I was with the president of Finland, and he said: 'We have a much different [sic] ..., we're a forest nation.' And they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don't have any problem," he added.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, however, told a Finnish newspaper he did not recall suggesting raking to Trump.

"I mentioned [to] him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network," he said.

Finnish people have taken to Twitter to poke fun at the U.S. President's statement using the hashtag "Raking America Great Again."

Despite Trump and Zinke's criticisms, the fact remains that the federal government controls almost 60 percent of the forests in California while the state controls only three percent. Paradise was surrounded by federal, not state, forests. Further, the fires in Southern California spread in suburban and urban areas, The Huffington Post reported.

Some think the emphasis put by Zinke and Trump on forest management is not about preventing fires at all but rather an attempt to justify opening more public forests to private logging interests.

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks with land managers, private landowners, university staff, and the media about federal forestry and land management at Boise State University on June 2, 2017. USDA photo by Lance Cheung

Animals
Dolphin found with a bullet wound in California's Manhattan Beach. Marine Animal Rescue / Facebook

'Senseless Killing': Dolphin Found Shot Dead on California Beach

How could anyone shoot a dolphin? A dolphin that washed up dead in Manhattan Beach, California died from a bullet wound, according to local animal rescue workers.

Earlier this month, Peter Wallerstein, the founder of Marine Animal Rescue, responded to a call about a stranded dolphin on the surf, according to NBC News. By the time he arrived at the scene, the marine mammal was dead.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
A critically endangered Javan rhino in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park. Robin Moore / Global Wildlife Conservation

See Stunning Footage of World's Most Threatened Rhino

With only 68 individuals left on the planet, the Javan rhino is the world's most threatened rhino species.

So you can image the surprise when a team from Global Wildlife Conservation and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) saw one of these incredible creatures wallowing in the mud in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park, the only place on Earth where these critically endangered species are found.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Laurie and Charles / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Turkeys: Who Are They, and Why Should We Care?

By Karen Davis

We adopted Amelia as a young turkey into our sanctuary from a local farmer. She lived with us for five years until her legs gave out, and we had to call our veterinarian to put her to rest, surrounded by her friends in the yard. Until then she hung out happily with the chickens and ducks, and when people visited, she'd fan out her white tail feathers and stroll amiably beside them.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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