From the wildfires in the U.S., coral die-back in the tropics and the deadly hurricanes battering small islands, the signs are crystal clear: climate devastation is already here. The world’s poorest people and indigenous communities are on the front line. They are also bearing the brunt of the sixth mass extinction, which is under way due to conversion of their forests, wetlands and other wild landscapes into concrete cities, dam reservoirs and fields growing soya.
...Sadly, I know this emergency cannot be averted by governments signing weak compacts and voluntary agreements with the biggest polluters on Earth. Nor by tweaking carbon markets that have been gutted of climate ambition by fossil-fuel lobbyists. We need to overhaul our political systems to limit access to government by big business. We need citizens’ assemblies to allow ordinary people to decide the scale and pace of transition on the basis of independent scientific advice.
Normal politics has failed us. It has brought the whole planet to the brink of ecological disaster. We cannot invoke and rely on the inadequate legal tools of the past 30 years that have allowed this crisis to happen. We need everyone to unite – from the left, the right, and every shade in between, and especially young people, many of whom are too disillusioned to vote or are excluded because they are only 16. We need everyone to undertake mass civil disobedience to create a new political reality the whole world over.
...The received political wisdom that people in rich countries can sit tight and buy their way out of catastrophic environmental outcomes, or know that the welfare state will save them, is looking more and more fanciful as we remain in the grip of austerity politics. Anyone with an understanding of how the global food system works, especially how much of the world’s food supply passes through less than a dozen ‘choke point’ ports, will know that our economies are deeply intertwined. Everyone will be affected, joining the millions who already are all over the world. Poor communities, especially people of color, whether in the Global North or the Global South, who have always been on the front lines of environmental injustice, will likely also bear the brunt of the new catastrophes.It's time to turn on the mainstream political apparatus that has led us into this existential crisis. You simply cannot rely on the people who made this disaster possible to save us from their own handiwork.
At the U.N. Conference on Climate Change, Extinction Rebellion supported the Alliance of Small Island States and the Climate Vulnerable Forum – together representing over 80 countries with 1 billion people. We helped pull together an international ‘emergency coalition’ to reject weak language that would have condemned them to extinction. While we in the Global North might only just be feeling the effects of climate change, the majority world has long since known the tragedy that the climate crisis brings.
Support is also being provided to the youth-led school strike movement started by Greta Thunberg, and to the newly emerging Birthstrike movement which is taking off in many countries to support people who are choosing not to bring children into this world unless, and until, conditions improve. In the U.S., the Sunrise Movement is building bipartisan support for a ten year mobilization and investment plan called the Green New Deal.
What all these movements have in common is a complete rejection of neoliberal economics and ‘business as usual’ politics. Yes, it is too late to prevent all the negative impacts of climate change. But this cannot destroy our capacity to nurture. It cannot destroy our capacity to love and our sense of justice.We can and now must redesign human societies based on love, justice and planetary boundaries so that no person or society is left to face devastating consequences and we learn to restore nature together.
Faced with toxic systems that are destroying all life on Earth, affirmation of this vision and rebelling against whatever gets in its way becomes a sacred duty for all. We can and must succeed in catalyzing a peaceful revolution to end the era of fossil fuels, nature extraction and capitalism.
Life on Earth depends on it.No matter how much you may adore him, there's no question that Justin Trudeau, like every prime minister since Brian Mulroney, is a disciple of neoliberal economics and "business as usual" politics. From that perch he cannot begin to protect us from the fallout of the very system he perpetuates. It can't be done.