This summer, organizers around the United States and Canada are planning a series of direct actions to fight extreme energy extraction and climate change. With two big actions earlier today and one late last week, things are off to a strong start.
This morning, 22 protesters sat-in and were arrested at a downtown Chicago federal building to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. The action, which took place in the heart of President Obama’s hometown, marks the beginning of a new civil disobedience campaign against the pipeline. The protesters were an intergenerational group, each holding a sign telling President Obama why they oppose the pipeline. There was also a large banner that said: “If Congress won’t act to protect future generations, I will.” Nationwide, over 60,000 people have pledged to engage in civil disobedience to stop the pipeline, if need be.
Meanwhile, across the country, 3,000 people converged in Albany, New York today to tell Governor Andrew Cuomo not to allow fracking in the state and to support renewable energy. Various renowned activists and artists such as Lois Gibbs, Sandra Steingraber and Pete Seeger spoke at what is being described as the largest anti-fracking rally in New York’s history. One participant, Logan Adsit, explained the potential impact of fracking on her community and family, saying, “My toddler is 17 months old. My son deserves to grow up breathing clean air and drinking clean water.”
Anti-fracking activists in Canada also made their opposition known, as 12 protesters were arrested last Friday after blocking seismic testing trucks on a potential fracking site in New Brunswick, where First Nations people and the local environment are under threat. The executive director of the Sierra Club in Canada spoke in support of the activists’ use of civil disobedience, a stance that the Sierra Club in the United States adopted a few months ago.
Organizers in the United States and Canada claim that civil disobedience is the last resort when governments have refused to respond to all other forms of engagement to protect their citizens. It should come as no surprise then that as the summer heats up, in continually record-breaking ways, so will resistance to climate change and governmental inaction. Campaigns such as 350.org’s Summer Heat and the more decentralized Fearless Summer intend to ignite action for climate justice in the coming weeks and months.
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Wow, Pete Seeger is the busiest 94-year-old man I can think of. I saw him on Sunday on stage at the Clearwater festival (read about its storied history here), and then on Monday he was at an anti-fracking rally?
I heard a story about him from Clearwater this year. Apparently at one point at the festival he was getting a little bit mobbed by fans. One of them, though, thanked him quite specifically for some bit of activism he’d done in the last year or so. He came up to her and replied, “It ain’t over yet.” Or something like that.
Do we think global society can avoid a collapse in this cen- tury? The answer is yes, because modern society has shown some capacity to deal with long-term threats, at least if they are obvious or continuously brought to attention (think of the risks of nuclear conflict). Humanity has the assets to get the job done, but the odds of avoiding collapse seem small because the risks are clearly not obvious to most people and the classic signs of impending collapse, especially dimin- ishing returns to complexity , are everywhere. One central psychological barrier to taking dramatic action is the distri- bution of costs and benefits through time: the costs up front, the benefits accruing largely to unknown people in the future. But whether we or more optimistic observers [17,163] are correct, our own ethical values compel us to think the benefits to those future generations are worth strug- gling for, to increase at least slightly the chances of avoiding a dissolution of today’s global civilization as we know it.”
We must organize to change our global focus irrevocably!
I don’t know … isn’t it better the sooner the collapse does come? If human civilization (as we know it) dies, the planet might live.