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  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.
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.
 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
The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.
A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Exxon Mobil will lay off an estimated 14,000 workers, about 15% of its global workforce, including 1,900 workers in the U.S., the company announced Thursday.
- Will Chevron and Exxon Ever Be Held Responsible for Decades of ... ›
- Exxon Goes on Trial for Lying About the Climate Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Exxon Sues Massachusetts Attorney General to Block Climate Fraud ... ›