Archives for posts with tag: Climate Change
13 percent of Americans claim that they would commit some form of non-violent civil disobedience to get action on climate change

13 percent of Americans claim that they would commit some form of non-violent civil disobedience to get action on climate change

According to a fascinating poll that came out last week, 13 percent of Americans claim that they would commit some form of non-violent civil disobedience to get action on climate change. To me, this is a dramatic number. Americans are not willing to put up with denial any longer. Opinions are shifting — hard and fast. People understand the risks as they begin to see and feel the impacts, and are tired of the dysfunction that is preventing change. All that these individuals need is a clear, direct action to take.

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and there has been much focus on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech — but it caused me to re-read another King work, his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

When you consider the impact climate change will have on our collective future, it is instructive to remember what Martin Luther King had to say about the power of non-violent civil disobedience in that letter in 1958.

The prophetic points of this message are numerous, but I will highlight two here that standout for their timeless wisdom.

The first was his outline of the preparation needed for mass, non-violent protest. He advocated a four-step process of analysis, negotiation, self-purification, and, finally, confrontation. The ordering here was crucial; only after the first three stages did he advocate the last.

Dr. King’s second observation was that even after the deliberate execution of those careful steps, confrontation was always “untimely” for the so-called moderates, arriving too soon for their comfort.

Dr. King’s key insight is not just that outright oppressors never give up their advantages willingly, but also that moderates never advocate any direct, non-violent, attack on the status quo because they are actually satisfied with it.

For the sake of our own struggle, this point is worth keeping in mind. Because of self-interest, the dirty energy industry will always engage in fierce, intense opposition. But what about the moderates of our era? Are they still satisfied with the status quo? I think not.

Returning, then, to the 13 percent who would personally engage in civil disobedience, how should we interpret this level of commitment?

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson thought that 15 percent of the general population was the number needed for accomplishing significant transformation. If he was correct, this may represent a tipping point. We may be on the precipice of major change.

Let’s hope we are.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-steyer/on-the-precipice-of-change_b_3831483.html

Liberate Tate is a network dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding.

The network was founded during a workshop in January 2010 on art and activism, commissioned by Tate.

When Tate curators tried to censor the workshop from making interventions against Tate sponsors, even though none had been planned, the incensed participants decided to continue their work together beyond the workshop and set up Liberate Tate.

LIBERATE TATE COMMUNIQUE #1 MAY 2010 – Released during Tate Modern’s 10 year Birthday Celebration Weekend.

Dear Tate

Happy Birthday. We wish we could celebrate with you. But we can’t.

As we write, your corporate sponsor BP is creating the largest oil painting in the world, inspired by profit margins and a culture that puts money in front of life, its shadowy stain shimmers across the Gulf of Mexico. A toxic tide that turns thriving ecosystems into deserts and deprives cultures of their way of life, it is one of the world’s greatest works of corporate art, a work that reeks of death and speaks of our society’s failure of imagination.

Every day Tate scrubs clean BP’s public image with the detergent of cool progressive culture. But there is nothing innovative or cutting edge about a company that knowingly feeds our addiction to fossil fuels despite a climate crisis, a company whose greed has killed twenty-one employees in just over a year, a company that continues to invest in the cancer-causing climate crimes of tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

By placing the words BP and Art together, the destructive and obsolete nature of the fossil fuel industry is masked, and crimes against the future are given a slick and stainless sheen.

Every time we step inside the museum Tate makes us complicit with these acts, acts that will one day seem as archaic as the slave trade, as anachronistic as public executions Every time Nicholas Serota is asked how a museum that prides itself on dealing with climate change can be funded by an oil company he responds that there are no plans to abandon BP sponsorship (anything to do with having an ex-CEO of BP chair Tate’s board of trustees?).

When art activist group The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination were invited to run a workshop on art and civil disobedience, they were told by curators that they could not take any action against Tate and its sponsors and the workshop was policed by the curators to make sure the artists produced work “commensurate with the Tate’s mission”. In March 2010, Tate Modern ran an eco symposium, “Rising to the Climate Change Challenge: Artists and Scientists Imagine Tomorrow’s World”, on the same day that Tate Britain was celebrating twenty years of BP sponsorship with one of its ‘BP Saturdays’ Incensed by this censorship and hypocrisy, participants in the symposium called for a vote: 80% of the audience agreed that BP sponsorship should be dropped by 2012.

So today we offer you a birthday present, a gift to liberate Tate from its old-fashioned fossil fuel addiction – a gift for the future. Beginning during your 10th anniversary party and continuing until you drop the sponsorship deal, we will be commissioning a series of art interventions in Tate buildings across the country. Already commissioned are Art Action collective, with a birthday surprise at this weekend’s No Soul For Sale event, and The Invisible Committee, who will infiltrate every corner of Tate across the country in the coming months.

We invite artists to join us and act to liberate Tate. Free art from oil.

http://liberatetate.wordpress.com/

68 kingsnorth climber

Editorial – The Observer, Sunday 31 May 2009

Sometimes, the most effective protest crosses the boundaries of law. That does not mean activists should be free to commit crimes just to draw attention to good causes. Rather, there are times when direct action can actually change the law, nudging it into closer alignment with what the protester sees as natural justice.

One such case is that of the Kingsnorth Six, who in 2007 broke into a coal-fired power station, shut it down and defaced it. They argued in court that the damage they caused prevented a worse harm: destruction of the climate.

The story is told in our Review section today and in a film collaboration between documentary-maker Nick Broomfield and Greenpeace, hosted by the Observer online. It shows the potential for extraordinary courage shown by ordinary people when motivated by ideals.

It so happens that the ideal of saving the world from climate change is a noble one. But the theoretical argument that direct action is justified in the name of a greater good leads on to morally complex terrain. It can be deployed by all sorts of zealots who think their cause trumps the law.

That is why the key to the Kingsnorth Six story is their trial by jury. Expert testimony and scientific evidence were presented to support the claim that closure of the power station, even for the few hours that the protest lasted, averted terrible harm to the climate. Such is the toxicity of coal smoke. The court concurred; the activists were acquitted.

That outcome would under any circumstances have made it a landmark case. But given the profound moral implications of the Kingsnorth Six defence – that burning filthy fossil fuels amounts to a crime against the planet – it is especially significant, and gratifying, that a jury of their peers agreed.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/may/31/kingsnorth-six-environmental-activists

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2009/may/31/nick-broomfield-kingsnorth

Image

By Bill McKibben

Woman with megaphone. Let’s get down to business and stop the Keystone XL pipeline. This open letter is signed by Maude Barlow, Wendell Berry, Tom Goldtooth, Danny Glover, James Hansen, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein, George Poitras, David Suzuki, and Gus Speth.

Dear friends,

Here’s the short version:

We want you to consider doing something hard — coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will likely get you arrested.

And here’s the full version:

As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the Earth. And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in short-term profit.

These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a certificate of “national interest” to some of the biggest fossil-fuel players on Earth. These corporations want to build the so-called Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.

To call this project a horror is serious understatement. The tar sands have wrecked huge parts of Alberta. They’ve disrupted ways of life for indigenous people, leading First Nations communities in Canada to demand that the destruction cease; tribes along the proposed pipeline route in the U.S. are worried too. The pipeline would cross crucial areas like the Ogallala Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous. And though the pipeline companies insist they are using “state of the art” technologies that should leak only once every seven years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan.

But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a 1,500-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.

How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists put it at the equivalent of about 200 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even with the new pipeline, they won’t be able to burn that much overnight — but each development like this makes it easier to get more oil out. As the climatologist James Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate, “unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.” In other words, he said, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over.”

The Keystone pipeline is an essential part of the game, and the fossil-fuel forces are adamant that it must go through. “Unless we get increased [market] access, like with Keystone XL, we’re going to be stuck,” Ralph Glass, vice president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary, told the Toronto Globe and Mail recently.

Given all that, you might think there’s no way the Obama administration would ever permit this pipeline. But in the last few months, the president has signed pieces of paper opening much of Alaska to oil drilling and permitting coal-mining on federal land in Wyoming that will produce as much CO2 as 300 power plants operating at full bore. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she’s “inclined” to recommend the pipeline go forward.

Partly this is because of the political commotion over high gas prices, even though more tar-sands oil would do nothing to change that picture. But it’s also because of intense pressure from industry. TransCanada PipeLines, the company behind Keystone, has hired as its chief lobbyist for the project a man named Paul Elliott, who served as deputy national director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined — has demanded that the administration “move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline” — not surprising coming from the same group that told the U.S. EPA that humans can adapt their physiology to cope in a climate-changed world. The Koch brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.

So we’re pretty sure that unless we apply serious pressure, the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington.

A wonderful coalition of environmental groups and concerned citizens has built a strong campaign across the continent to fight the pipeline — from Nebraska farmers to Cree and Dene indigenous leaders, they’ve spoken out strongly against the destruction of their land. We need to join them, and say that even if our own homes won’t be crossed by this pipeline, our joint home — the Earth — will be wrecked by the carbon that pours down it.

And we need to say something else, too: It’s time to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions affecting our planet. We don’t have the money to compete with those corporations, but we do have our bodies, and beginning on Aug. 15, many of us will use them.

This won’t be a one-shot day of action. We plan for it to continue for three weeks, up to Labor Day, Sept. 5, the date by which the administration will either grant or deny the permit for the pipeline. Each day, we will march on the White House, risking arrest with our trespass. We will do it in dignified fashion, demonstrating that in this case we are the conservatives, and our foes — those who would change the composition of the atmosphere — are the dangerous radicals. Come dressed as if for a business meeting — this is, in fact, serious business. And another sartorial tip: If you wore an Obama button during the 2008 campaign, why not wear it again? We very much still want to believe in the promise of that young senator who told us that his election would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” We don’t understand what combination of bureaucratic obstinacy and insider dealing has derailed those efforts, but we remember his request that his supporters continue on after the election to pressure the government for change. We’ll do what we can.

And one more thing: We don’t want college-age kids to be the only cannon fodder in this fight. They’ve led the way so far on climate change — 10,000 came to D.C. for the Powershift gathering earlier this spring. They’ve marched this month in West Virginia to protest mountaintop removal. Tim DeChristopher faces sentencing this summer in Utah for his creative protest. Now it’s time for people who’ve spent their lives pouring carbon into the atmosphere (and whose careers won’t be as damaged by an arrest record) to step up too. Most of us signing this letter are veterans of this work, and we think it’s past time for elders to behave like elders. (But one thing we don’t want is a smashup: If you can’t control your passions, this action is not for you.)

Not all of us will actually be able to get arrested — half the signatories to this letter live in Canada, and we might well find our entry into the U.S. barred. But we will be making plans for sympathy demonstrations outside U.S. consulates in Canada, and Canadian consulates in the U.S. The decision-makers need to know they’re being watched.

Winning this battle won’t save the climate. But losing it will mean that the chances of runaway climate change go way up, that we’ll endure an endless future of the floods and droughts we’ve seen this year. And we’re fighting for the political future too, for the premise that we should make decisions based on science and reason, not political connection.

If you think you might want to be a part of this action, we need you to sign up here. As plans solidify in the next few weeks, we’ll be in touch with you to arrange nonviolence training; our colleagues at a variety of environmental and democracy campaigns will be coordinating the actual arrangements.

We know we’re asking a lot. You should think long and hard on it, and pray if you’re the praying type. But to us, it’s as much privilege as burden to get to join this fight in the most serious possible way. We hope you’ll join us, and we’re very grateful that you’re willing even to consider it.

Sincerely,

Maude Barlow
Wendell Berry
Tom Goldtooth
Danny Glover
James Hansen
Wes Jackson
Naomi Klein
Bill McKibben
George Poitras
David Suzuki
Gus Speth

P.S. — Please pass this letter on to anyone you think might be interested!

Bill McKibben is founder of 350.org and Schumann Distinguished Professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. He was recently honored with the Gandhi Peace Award for his work coordinating the civil disobedience actions around the Keystone XL pipeline in June 2011. He serves on Grist’s Board of Directors.

http://grist.org/climate-change/2011-06-23-join-us-in-civil-disobedience-to-stop-the-keystone-xl-tar-sands/

Tim De Christopher Bidder 70

Tim DeChristopher is an American climate activist and co-founder of the environmental group Peaceful Uprising. On December 19, 2008 he protested a government oil and gas lease auction of public land in Utah’s redrock country by successfully bidding on 14 parcels of land (totaling 22,500 acres) for US$1.8m with no intention to pay for them. DeChristopher was removed from the auction by federal agents, taken into custody, and questioned and served 21 months in prison, from July 2011through April 2013. His actions are referred to as “creative acts of protest” in times when “morality and law are on opposite sides” by C Guillebau (The Art of Non Conformity). The story has been made into a feature length documentary ‘Bidder 70’.