Too Late For Gandhi

Though it may be unpopular to say so, the current climate catastrophe is unstoppable and probably cannot be mitigated to any significant degree. While efforts to minimize the worst effects of this catastrophe are laudable, they will, for most part, fail. With near certainty, they will not be able to save this civilization, and most definitely, they will not stave off a near-term societal breakdown.

In this blog, we will be taking the position that it is already too late, even for non-violent, direct action. While such actions may have had an appreciable efficacy 30 years ago (and we are not sure they would have even then), it is now too late. This is difficult for us to say, because even a few months ago we were deeply involved in Extinction Rebellion (XR). It is difficult, too, because, of all the people we know, they are some of the most dedicated and loving people we have ever met.

Our Gallant Ship will ask what makes sense for us to do (and be) when nearly everyone, even Greta Thunberg and Roger Hallam, comes to see that climate change is irreversible and cannot be stopped, or even reasonably mitigated. We do this because we believe this accurately reflects the situation we are in, and because we believe most people will come to this conclusion fairly soon.

At the present time (late summer, 2019), most people who are on the cutting edge of climate change take the view that we still have a dozen or so years to turn it around. But this is based on a very limited metric. The question still remains: What will we do when that time runs out? How will our actions change when we know it is too late? This is what Our Gallant Ship will explore. We will argue that, once it is generally accepted that it is too late, the kinds of actions people take will differ substantially from actions based on a sense that there is still time remaining.

We are interested in exploring the personal, social, political, psychological, and spiritual dimensions that will help us work with this bleak reality. We explore this because we believe it is true, and because very few others are doing this kind of work, at least not openly.

In all of this, we will not try to ‘prove’ that our perspective is correct, even though we will point-out some of the dynamics that lead to our sense that it is. For the most part, we will simply assume that the facts on the ground lend reasonable credibility to this perspective. We will not waste time on analyzing causes, finding scapegoats, or blaming people, corporations, and governments. It is what it is.

We realize this is a more radical perspective than The Green New Deal, Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, and most, if not all, similar organizations. One might argue that, as good as these organizations and platforms are, they still may be seen as subtle forms of denial, perhaps the best and most highly refined forms of denial in a world, where denial is a global and nearly universal phenomenon.

So, yes, we believe it is too late for Gandhi. Gandhi’s situation in the mid-20th Century was fairly limited when compared to the present climate catastrophe, partly because the present crisis is “a collective action problem of the highest order. One city, one country, even one continent cannot solve it alone. . . . Moreover, any leader who forced her country to accept the austerity and redistribution necessary to end its dependence on cheap carbon would also be forcing her country into a weak and isolated position politically, economically, and militarily (Roy Scranton, “How to Die in the Anthropocene, p. 53).”

A quick purview of the current global political climate should be enough for us to see that collective action, even within a single country, is a daunting challenge at best. Most of the major countries are grappling with, or being torn apart by, domestic problems–nationalism, migration, border disputes, power struggles, economic fears, fake news, trade tensions, and a host of other domestic flash points. And these internal issues push climate change far down on their agendas.

Though it is too late for Gandhi the tireless activist, it is not too late for Gandhi the man, the man of unshakable love and tireless devotion to friend and foe alike.

Extinction Rebellion statement on the UN IPBES 2019 Global Assessment on Biodiversity

“In recent weeks, the environment has risen to the top of the political agenda and the truth is beginning to be spoken. This has culminated in the UK Parliament declaring an Environment and Climate Emergency – two days after Scotland and Wales.”

“However, too much of the focus has been on greenhouse gases and climate change. We also face an ecological crisis – the sixth mass extinction – which is as dangerous for our planet as climate change. The UN IPBES report on biodiversity released on Monday shows that our way of life is causing nature to collapse.”

“The UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report is the most damning of its kind and reveals our consistent and extensive failures to address the accelerating loss of biodiversity. It is both shaming and shocking. Little or no progress has been made towards halting extinctions, loss of habitat or restoration of ecosystems, within safe ecological limits or sustainable production and consumption.


Dr Alison Green, National Director (UK) Scientists Warning and spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion

“The report delivers a stark message that humanity is engaged in the mass annihilation of other species with whom we share our home.” Read more . . .

‘We Are Burning It Up’: Protestors Block Parts Of Speer For Global Warming Movement

Click on the link below to watch (and read) the CBS Channel 4 News Report on Saturday’s Extinction Rebellion (XR) non-violent, civil disobedience action, blocking parts of Speer Blvd for 20 minutes. I was honored to serve as spokesperson for the event.

Today’s Extinction Rebellion US Press Release

Press Release
For Immediate Release
April 12, 2019

CONTACT:
Ruby Bristol, (541) 499-2522, climatenews@protonmail.com
Bea Ruiz, (510) 859-4540, xr@extinctionrebellion.us
ExtinctionRebellion.US | Twitter: @extinctionrebel #XRUS Facebook.com/ExtinctionRebellionUS/
Call to Action: https://extinctionrebellion.us/rebellion-week

Climate Rebels Take 30+ Actions Across the US – April 15 – 22
Groups declare non-violent rebellion to force government action on climate change

USA – Beginning Monday, April 15, Extinction Rebellion (XR US) will take action in large and small cities in the United States as one strand in an emerging, worldwide revolt to build the people power necessary to force governments to take action on climate change. In the U.S., actions may include lockdowns, road blockades, shutdowns, “die-ins”, and other forms of disruption — while advocating for a justice-based, healing vision for the future.

Extinction Rebellion’s International Rebellion will break out across every continent on Earth April 15 through 22, barring Antarctica. Rebels in 49 countries are demanding their governments take decisive action to implement systemic changes to stop global warming while there’s still time left.

“Governments have failed us. Those who are most vulnerable and least responsible for this crisis are the ones who are suffering the most. People are dying. Species are disappearing. Everything is at stake,” said Bea Ruiz, a national coordinator for XR U.S. “We are living through a time like no other and we won’t allow this destruction to continue.”

Ruiz continued, “It’s time to do what’s never been done before in the fight against climate change – a collective and coordinated international rebellion that will continue to escalate until our demands are met. Nothing can stop us, because together, nothing can.”

The wildly popular movement has grown exponentially since their initial Declaration of Rebellion in the United Kingdom in October, 2018. A month later, six thousand Rebels converged and peacefully blocked five major bridges across the Thames in London. They planted trees in Parliament Square and dug a hole there to bury a coffin representing the future, and then super-glued themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace as they read a letter to the Queen.

The movement has spread to include hundreds of thousands of people around the world in six months in part because Extinction Rebellion doesn’t rely on false positivity or hope. XR communicates precisely about the climate emergency we face and then asks people to act accordingly. It’s working.

“People from all walks of life in the US are joining Extinction Rebellion,” said Christina See, a theatrical lighting designer and a New York City Coordinator for XR US. “I have never been involved in activism before. I came with feelings of grief, fear, and anger that have been building for years and I’ve transformed those feelings into action.”

One newcomer to XR and the fight for climate justice includes Mike Selmer, a 62 year-old cancer survivor and blue collar construction worker from Wyoming who has vowed to take action for his grandchildren.

“My generation has not come to grips with the climate crisis,” said Selmer. “It is our moral responsibility to create the circumstances that will allow those who follow us to succeed where we failed. That success will only come if all of us, young and old, take action to make it happen.”

Actions are planned in major cities from coast to coast, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, and smaller cities including Portland, Denver, and Austin.

Extinction Rebellion U.S. is one of 49 countries that form Extinction Rebellion International. XR US has four demands. They include not only the necessary target for reducing carbon emissions and expanding democracy to counteract the hold fossil fuel industries have over the US government, but also environmental reparations for disproportionately impacted communities, rights for Mother Nature, and respect for Indigenous sovereignty.

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Expressions of support for the international call to do whatever is necessary to non-violently persuade politicians to end their complacency and inaction have come from many hundreds of notables from all spheres. A portion of those include:

Greta Thunberg (Climate Activist), Dame Emma Thompson (Actor, Writer, and Activist), Radiohead (Musicians), Stephen Fry (Comedian, Writer, Actor), Rowan Williams (Former Archbishop of Canterbury), Ellie Goulding (Singer-songwriter), Simon Amstell (Comedian, Writer, Film-maker), Lily Cole (Model, Actor, Entrepreneur), George Monbiot (Journalist), Noam Chomsky (Linguist, Philosopher, Academic), Bill McKibben (Educator and Author), Vandana Shiva (Environmental activist, Author), Naomi Klein (Author, Activist) The YES MEN (Culture Jamming Activists), Gavin Turk (Artist), Nan Goldin (Artist), John Aitchison (Bafta and Emmy Winning Wildlife Cameraman).

The Five Key Elements of the Civil Resistance Model: Roger Hallam

The following 21:07 minute video by Roger Hallam, co-founder of the UK-based Extinction Rebellion (XR), was recorded on April 3, 2019, just a few days before the XR mass participation, non-violent, direct actions planned for April 15 in London’s Parliament Square.

Hallam says there are only three options for Climate Change Action, but that only #3 is a viable option:

1. Traditional campaigning – emails, phone calls, marches, demonstrations – is no longer an option because it has been tried for the past 30 years and it has failed – no reflection on those who participated in these activities. For 30 years, we’ve been doing that and during that time GHG emissions have risen 60%.

2. Violence would be a disaster, as it has always been.

3. Civil resistance– mass, non-violent, direct-action is the only viable option. Hallam outlines the 5 key elements of his Civil Resistance Model. If any one of these elements is absent, the action will be ineffective; no fundamental change will result.

  1. Mass Participation: There must be thousands of people (5000 – 20,000) – but not millions, millions are not necessary. Thousands of people must be mobilized and brought to the capital.
  2. Capital City: You have to go to the capital city of the country; that’s where the government is, that’s where the power is. You have to be “under their windows” and disrupt their work.
  3. Break the Law: There is absolutely no point in doing something for climate change if thousands of people aren’t breaking the law. But it must be non-destructive.
  4. Do It Day After Day: (This element is most important): disruption must go on for days, if not weeks. One day closing bridges or roads, one march, one demonstration, etc. will not cut it.
  5. Sustaining Atmosphere: there must be a festive atmosphere during the action. People must be socially, creatively, physically, and psychologically sustained during the action. People must have a good time.

My personal response to this video was very strong, partly because Hallam’s Civil Resistance Model is precisely where my own analysis was leading me.
I believe he is correct about these five elements: they are the sin qua non for effective and consequential action. His analysis helped me see why I’ve felt so much hesitation and emotional turmoil with efforts and actions that do not include all five key elements. Needless to say, my involvement and activities suffer from this uncertainty and hesitation.


“There isn’t a non-civil disobedience route here . . .”

Climate Scientist Kevin Anderson

Hallam helped me clarify this. He encouraged me to give more respect to my gut-level intuitions in regard to it. Political action for climate change must include all five of Hallam’s key elements: non-violent direct action; mass participation in the power centers of capital cities across the globe; breaking the law and doing it day after day; and broadly sustaining everyone while doing it.

That’s it. There are no other options. Watch the video and see what you think.