Time is Short: Reasoning to Resistance

15 Realities of our Global Environmental Crisis

By Deep Green Resistance

  1. Industrial civilization is not, and can never be, sustainable.

Any social system based on the use of non-renewable resources is by definition unsustainable. Non-renewable means it will eventually run out. If you hyper-exploit your non-renewable surroundings, you will deplete them and die. Even for your renewable surroundings like trees, if you exploit them faster than they can regenerate, you will deplete them and die. This is precisely what civilization has been doing for its 10,000-year campaign – running through soil, rivers, and forests as well as metal, coal, and oil.

  1. Industrial civilization is causing a global collapse of life.

Due to industrial civilization’s insatiable appetite for growth, we have exceeded the planet’s carrying capacity. Once the carrying capacity of an area is surpassed, the ecological community is severely damages, and the longer the overshoot lasts, the worse the damage, until the population eventually collapses. This collapse is happening now. Every 24 hours up to 200 species become extinct. 90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone. 98% of native forests, 99% of wetlands, and 99% of native grasslands have been wiped out in the US.

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  1. Industrial civilization is based on and requires ongoing systematic violence to operate.

This way of life is based on the perceived right of the powerful to take whatever resources they want. All land on which industrial civilization is now based on land that was taken by force from its original inhabitants, and shaped using processes – industrial forestry, mining, smelting – that violently shape the world to industrial ends. Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell resources on which their communities and homes are based and do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources – gold, oil, and so on – can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to acquire these resources by any means necessary. Resource extraction cannot be accomplished without force and exploitation.

  1. In order for the world as we know it to exist on a day-to-day basis, a vast and growing degree of destruction and death must occur.

Industrialization is a process of taking entire communities of living beings and turning them into commodities and dead zones. Trace every industrial artifact back to its source­ and you find the same devastation: mining, clear-cuts, dams, agriculture, and now tar sands, mountaintop removal, and wind farms. These atrocities, and others like them, happen all around us, every day, just to keep things running normally. There is no kinder, greener version of industrial civilization that will do the trick of leaving us a living planet.

  1. This way of being is not natural.

Humans and their immediate evolutionary predecessors lived sustainably for at least a million years. It is not “human nature” to destroy one’s habitat. The “centralization of political power, the separation of classes, the lifetime division of labor, the mechanization of production, the magnification of military power, the economic exploitation of the weak, and the universal introduction of slavery and forced labor for both industrial and military purposes”[1] are only chief features of civilization, and are constant throughout its history.

  1. Industrial civilization is only possible with cheap energy.

The only reason industrial processes such as large-scale agriculture and mining even function is because of cheap oil; without that, industrial processes go back to depending on slavery and serfdom, as in most of the history of civilization.

  1. Peak oil, and hence the era of cheap oil, has passed.

Peak oil is the point at which oil production hits its maximum rate. Peak oil has passed and extraction will decline from this point onwards. This rapid decline in the availability of global energy will result in increasing economic disruption and upset. The increasing cost and decreasing supply of energy will undermine manufacturing and transportation and cause global economic turmoil. Individuals, companies, and even states will go bankrupt. International trade will nosedive because of a global depression. The poor will be unable to cope with the increasing cost of basic goods, and eventually the financial limits will result in large-scale energy-intensive manufacturing becoming impossible – resulting in, among other things – the collapse of agricultural infrastructure, and the associated transportation and distribution network.

At this point in time, there are no good short-term outcomes for global human society. The collapse of industrial civilization is inevitable, with or without our input, it’s just a matter of time. The problem is that every day the gears of this destructive system continue grinding is another day it wages war on the natural world. With up to 200 species and more than 80,000 acres of rainforest being wiped out daily as just some of the atrocities occurring systematically to keep our lifestyles afloat, the sooner this collapse is induced the better.

  1. “Green technologies” and “renewable energy” are not sustainable and will not save the planet.

Solar panels and wind turbines aren’t made out of nothing.  These “green” technologies are made out of metals, plastics, and chemicals. These products have been mined out of the ground, transported vast distances, processed and manufactured in big factories, and require regular maintenance. Each of these stages causes widespread environmental destruction, and each of these stages is only possible with the mass use of cheap energy from fossil fuels. Neither fossil fuels nor mined minerals will ever be sustainable; by definition, they will run out. Even recycled materials must undergo extremely energy-intensive production processes before they can be reused.[2]

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  1. Personal consumption habits will not save the planet.

Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption for organized political resistance. Personal consumption habits — changing light bulbs, going vegan, shorter showers, recycling, taking public transport — have nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet. Besides, 90% of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. Three quarters of energy is consumed and 95% of waste is produced by commercial, industrial, corporate, agricultural and military industries. By blaming the individual, we are accepting capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers, reducing our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming.

  1. There will not be a mass voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living.

The current material systems of power make any chance of significant social or political reform impossible. Those in power get too many benefits from destroying the planet to allow systematic changes which would reduce their privilege. Keeping this system running is worth more to them than the human and non-human lives destroyed by the extraction, processing, and utilization of natural resources.

  1. We are afraid.

The primary reason we don’t resist is because we are afraid. We know if we act decisively to protect the places and creatures we love or if we act decisively to stop corporate exploitation of the poor, that those in power will come down on us with the full power of the state. We can talk all we want about how we live in a democracy, and we can talk all we want about the consent of the governed. But what it really comes down to is that if you effectively oppose the will of those in power, they will try to kill you. We need to make that explicit so we can face the situation we’re in: those in power are killing the planet and they are exploiting the poor, and we are not stopping them because we are afraid. This is how authoritarian regimes and abusers work: they make their victims and bystanders afraid to act.

  1. If we only fight within the system, we lose.

Things will not suddenly change by using the same approaches we’ve been using for the past 30 years. When nothing is working to stop or even slow the destruction’s acceleration, then it is time to change your strategy. Until now, most of our tactics and discourse (whether civil disobedience, writing letters and books, carrying signs, protecting small patches of forest, filing lawsuits, or conducting scientific research) remain firmly embedded in whatever actions are authorized by the overarching structures that permit the destruction in the first place.

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  1. Dismantling industrial civilization is the only rational, permanent solution.

Our strategies until now have failed because neither our violent nor nonviolent responses are attempts to rid us of industrial civilization itself. By allowing the framing conditions to remain, we guarantee a continuation of the behaviors these framing conditions necessitate. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The longer we wait for civilization to crash – or we ourselves bring it down – the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

  1. Militant resistance works.

Study of past social insurgencies and resistance movements shows that specific types of asymmetric warfare strategies are extremely effective.

  1. We must build a culture of resistance.

Some things, including a living planet, that are worth fighting for at any cost, when other means of stopping the abuses have been exhausted. One of the good things about industrial civilization being so ubiquitously destructive, is that no matter where you look – no matter what your gifts, no matter where your heart lies – there’s desperately important work to be done. Some of us need to file timber sales appeals and lawsuits. Some need to help family farmers or work on other sustainable agriculture issues. Some need to work on rape crisis hot lines, or at battered women’s shelters. Some need to work on fair trade, or on stopping international trade altogether. Some of us need to take down dams, oil pipelines, mining equipment, and electrical infrastructure.

We need to fight for what we love, fight harder than we have ever thought we could fight, because the bottom line is that any option in which industrial civilization remains, results in a dead planet.

 

Parts of this article were drawn from Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet, by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen. If you want to help fight back, we recommend reading the book, browsing our list of ideas for taking action on your own, or volunteering with or joining Deep Green Resistance.

[1] Lewis Mumford, Myth of the Machine, Volume 2,  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970, page 186.

[2] Recycled materials also usually degrade over time, limiting their recycling potential.

12 thoughts on “Time is Short: Reasoning to Resistance”

  1. So basically, we are so thoroughly fucked that it’s going to take a miracle?

    I can’t help but feel that doing anything to stop the collapse is just delaying the inevitable, that it is almost better to just encourage these events to play out and hope that a more immediate catastrophe is better than a long, drawn out battle. Much like one would do with a drug addict, let him get his fill and WANT To quit, and hope it doesn’t kill him. Unfortunately, currently this means the impacts of empire are going to have to filter up to the dominant privileged class with such consequence that a different way of life is more appealing than what we have now.

    Ya… a miracle…..

    1. Hi kaviji,

      Yeah, we in Deep Green Resistance believe that far from trying to stop collapse, we need to actively work towards it. This culture is irredeemable, and the only way to stop its destruction is to shut it down.

      We don’t think this will happen through some mass movement, especially not amongst the dominant privileged class. So we’re encouraging the formation of underground groups which strategically target critical industrial infrastructure. It wouldn’t require very many people carrying out such attacks to disrupt business as usual. See the Niger Delta Avengers for a modern example, and read the Decisive Ecological Warfare excerpt from the Deep Green Resistance book for more details on our strategy.

  2. I like what you’re fighting for, and you have good points that I also believe to be the case. But you need to do a better job of citing your statistics and facts if they are to be taken as credible. And then point 14 you just kind of shadily suggest we all engage in guerilla warfare against our power elites. I don’t see any salvation in violence to fight violence.

    1. Thanks for the comment. If you follow the link in point 14, “past social insurgencies and resistance movements,” you’ll find our resistance profiles page, which briefly outlines the goals, strategies, and tactics of various historic resistance movements, some of which where nonviolent, and some not. You can also follow the suggestions for further reading listed for each of these movements. We also encourage you to read the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet, which is cited at the end of this article.

      1. I completely agree with the article contents. Industrial civilization is a terrible pathology of the Earth. We must be glad of its end, that’s is near. Industrial civilization is two century-old, mankind has 2-3 million years age, Life has 3 billion years. Five thousand cultures have existed on Earth, before the terrible action of industrial age. We must manage the transient after the industrial civilization’s end towards new models, completely different. The problem is that any human culture is unable to conceive its own
        end. The so-called “green economy” is useless. Economy is ended in toto. Stop economics language! Perhaps money itself can disappear. A terrible problem is the monster overpopulation and overcrowding all over the Planet.

        1. I think it is a common misconception, and a dangerous one, that industrial civilization is “near its end”. There is every possibility that “business as usual” will continue for at least another 50 years, and quite possibly much longer. As I see it, there is a common illusion among enviromentally minded folks that all the warning signs are actually indications of the collapse happening.

          We need to stop hoping for some kind of “rapture” to save us from ourselves and start getting serious about doing what must be done.

          1. Thank you, kaviji, I agree. I used to think peak oil or economic instability would collapse the system for us, but the powers that be keep dragging things out…in ways ever more destructive. This could continue for far too long; we do need to step up and actively bring down civilization instead of hoping it’ll go on its own.

    2. Hi Andrew, thanks for your comments.

      Just to address your point on citing statistics and facts, our apologies. Below are some references for you if you are interested in following these facts up.

      Every 24 hours up to 200 species become extinct.
      UN Environment Programme estimate. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/aug/16/nature-economic-security

      90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone.
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v423/n6937/full/nature01610.html

      98% of native forests,
      http://www.greenfacts.org/en/forests/l-3/2-extent-deforestation.htm#1p0
      http://www.saveamericasforests.org/resources/Destruction.htm

      99% of wetlands,
      https://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Documents/Status-and-Trends-of-Wetlands-In-the-Coastal-Watersheds-of-the-Conterminous-US-2004-to-2009.pdf
      https://water.usgs.gov/nwsum/WSP2425/history.html
      http://www.tarleton.edu/Faculty/cthompson/WETLANDS1/Loss.html

      99% of native grasslands
      http://www.internationalgrasslands.org/files/igc/publications/1997/iii-385.pdf

  3. The amount of industrialization is the issue. That is directly correlated with the expanding growth of the human population which is the underlying problems of most if not all environmental issues.

    I agree with an earlier post, validate the statistics you cite. Nothing weakens an argument more than distorted facts.

    1. Hi Randy, thanks for your comments.

      I’m not sure which statistics you are referring to, but will assume they are those in point 2. Apologies for not having placed those citations there, however these facts are unfortunately not distorted. Here are some references:

      Every 24 hours up to 200 species become extinct.
      UN Environment Programme estimate. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/aug/16/nature-economic-security

      90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone.
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v423/n6937/full/nature01610.html

      98% of native forests,
      http://www.greenfacts.org/en/forests/l-3/2-extent-deforestation.htm#1p0
      http://www.saveamericasforests.org/resources/Destruction.htm

      99% of wetlands,
      https://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Documents/Status-and-Trends-of-Wetlands-In-the-Coastal-Watersheds-of-the-Conterminous-US-2004-to-2009.pdf
      https://water.usgs.gov/nwsum/WSP2425/history.html
      http://www.tarleton.edu/Faculty/cthompson/WETLANDS1/Loss.html

      99% of native grasslands
      http://www.internationalgrasslands.org/files/igc/publications/1997/iii-385.pdf

      Regarding your other comment, yes overpopulation of any kind would lead to depleted resources and collapse. Industrialization itself is still by definition unsustainable (the process of turning communities of living beings into commodities and dead zones). Even if the population, and our consumption rates, were at a more manageable size, the industrialization process that our society relies on would still retain its destructive qualities. We have lots of information on these topics on our website:

      https://deepgreenresistance.org/why-resist/ecological-collapse

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