Declaring Climate Emergency – What Does It Really Mean?

Declaring Climate Emergency – What Does It Really Mean?

Editor’s note: Mainstream environmentalists have been demanding that countries across the world declare a “climate emergency.” But what does a climate emergency mean? What will the consequences be? Is there a possibility that it will be more detrimental to the environment? In this piece, Elisabeth Robson argues how declaring a climate emergency can be worse for the environment.

By Elisabeth Robson/Protect Thacker Pass

“Climate emergency”. We hear these words regularly these days, whenever there is a wild fire, a flood, or an extreme weather event of any kind. We hear these words at the annual Conference of Parties (COPs) on climate change held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including at the COP27 meeting happening right now in Egypt. And we hear these words regularly from organizations petitioning the U.S. government to “declare a climate emergency”, and from Senators requesting the same.

Most recently, here in the U.S., we heard these words on October 4, 2022 when a group of US Senators led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) urged President Biden to “build on the inflation reduction act” and “declare a climate emergency”, writing: “Declaring a climate emergency could unlock the broad powers of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Stafford Act*, allowing you to immediately pursue an array of regulatory and administrative actions to slash emissions, protect public health, support national and energy security, and improve our air and water quality.”

The requests by these Senators include two related specifically to electric vehicles:

* Maximize the adoption of electric vehicles, push states to reduce their transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and support the electrification of our mass transit;

* Transition the Department of Defense non-tactical vehicle fleet to electric and zero-emission vehicles, install solar panels on military housing, and take other aggressive steps to decrease its environmental impact.

The Senators continue, “The climate crisis is one of the biggest emergencies that our country has ever faced and time is running out. We need to build off the momentum from the IRA and make sure that we achieve the ambition this crisis requires, and what we have promised the world.  We urge you to act boldly, declare this crisis the national emergency that it is, and embark upon significant regulatory and administrative action.”

What the Senators are requesting is that President Biden invoke the National Emergencies Act (NEA) to go above and beyond what the Biden Administration has already done to take action in this “climate emergency” by invoking the Defense Production Act and passing the Inflation Reduction Act. This is not the first time a US president has been asked to declare a climate emergency by members of Congress, but it is the most recent.

Invoking the Defense Production Act, as the administration did in April, 2022, allows the administration to support domestic mining for critical minerals (including lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, which readers of this blog will recognize as essential ingredients in batteries for EVs and energy storage) with federal funding and incentives in the name of national security.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August, 2022, codified into law support for domestic mining of 50 “critical minerals” to supply renewables and battery manufacturing. This law directly supports EV manufacturing by offering tax credits to car companies that use domestic supplies of metals and minerals above a certain threshold (40% to start).

We’ve already seen how the Biden Administration is using its powers under these two acts (the Defense Production Act (DPA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)) to encourage more domestic mining for “critical minerals” and the expansion of electric vehicles and charging stations. Mining companies are “celebrating”, as one journalist wrote, including Lithium Americas Corporation (LAC) whose CEO said of the IRA “We’re delighted with it.” Car companies getting support from the government to expand manufacturing, companies getting support for building out the EV charging networks, battery-making companies, and the Department of Defense must also be celebrating the infusion of government cash and the tax incentives coming their way.

The administration would have even more power to fund and incentivize mining, manufacturing, development and industry with the National Emergencies Act, or NEA. The NEA empowers the President to activate special powers during a crisis. These powers could include loan guarantees, fast tracking permits, and even suspending existing laws that protect the environment, such as the Clean Air Act, if the administration believes these laws get in the way of mining, manufacturing, and other industrial development required for addressing the climate emergency.

As described in the Brennan Center’s Guide to Emergency Powers and Their Use, in the event a national emergency is declared, such as a climate emergency, the “President may authorize an agency to guarantee loans by private institutions in order to finance products and services essential to the national defense without regard to normal procedural and substantive requirements for such loan guarantees” [emphasis added]. This authorization could occur, as stated in the NEA, “during a period of national emergency declared by Congress or the President” or “upon a determination by the President, on a nondelegable basis, that a specific guarantee is necessary to avert an industrial resource or critical technology item shortfall that would severely impair national defense capability.”

Included in the long list of requirements for a Department of Energy (DoE) loan guarantee, the loan applicant must supply “A report containing an analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project that will enable DoE to:

(i) Assess whether the proposed project will comply with all applicable environmental requirements; and

(ii) Undertake and complete any necessary reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969.”

In the event a climate emergency is declared, could the administration then be able to “authorize an agency to guarantee loans” to a corporation “without regard” for these requirements? If so, then a corporation could potentially skip the NEPA process currently required for a new mining project, and not bother to do an assessment about whether their project would comply with all applicable environmental requirements (e.g. requirements under the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act).

In other words, a corporation could proceed with their project, such as a lithium mine, with little to no environmental oversight if the Administration believes the resulting products are “essential to national defense.”

We already know that the Biden Administration believes that lithium production is essential to national defense: they have explicitly stated this in their invocation of the Defense Production Act and in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Declaring a “climate emergency” would give the administration free rein to allow corporations to sidestep environmental procedures that are normally required during the process of permitting a project like a mine, resulting in more harm to the environment.

Aside from these technical details about the implications of declaring a climate emergency, we know that most organizations, including those participating in COP27 and the 1,100 organizations that signed a February 2022 letter to President Biden urging him to declare a climate emergency, are demanding actions that would further harm the environment, such as “maximiz[ing] the adoption of electric vehicles” and “transition[ing] the Department of Defense…to electric and zero-emission vehicles” as demanded in the Senators’ October 4 letter to President Biden.

While these actions may reduce some greenhouse gas emissions, neither of these actions will reduce other harms to the environment, because these actions require more extraction and more development. And neither of these actions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a scope large enough to solve the climate crisis. What the activists, organizations, and Senators crying out for the President to declare a climate emergency seemingly fail to understand is that the climate emergency isn’t the only emergency we face.

Industrial development, and more specifically, industrial agriculture, has caused a 70% reduction in wildlife numbers just since 1970. This is an emergency inextricably linked with and just as dire as the climate crisis, yet the Senators and organizations calling for a climate emergency don’t demand a reduction in overall industrial development, only a reduction in fossil fuels development.

Each year, 24 billion tons of topsoil are lost, due primarily to industrial agriculture practices and deforestation. In 2014, the UN estimated that if current degradation rates continue, all the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years. This too is an emergency inextricably linked with and just as dire as the climate crisis, yet again, the Senators and organizations calling for a climate emergency don’t demand actions to rebuild and restore soil.

Industry, including the military-industrial complex, has polluted the entire planet with toxic levels of mercury, lead, PCBs, dioxins, forever chemicals such as PFAS chemicals, and micro- and nano-plastics. These toxics are in the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe—“we” being, of course, not just humans but all wildlife on the planet. Again, this is an emergency just as dire as the climate emergency.

More than 50 million gallons of wastewater contaminated with arsenic, lead, and other toxic metals flows daily from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. into groundwater, rivers, and ponds. Mining waste that is captured must be stored and/or treated indefinitely “for perhaps thousands of years,” as the Associated Press wrote memorably in a 2019 article on mining waste. Replicate this kind of mining waste pollution around the world, and obviously, this too is an emergency just as dire as the climate emergency.

There are many such emergencies. Humans, our industry, and our developments have destroyed half of the land on Earth, and one third of all Earth’s forests. 60% of all mammals on Earth are now human livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, and 70% of all birds are now farmed poultry. This along with the staggering loss of wild beings due to human development and the destruction of habitat has resulted in the sixth mass extinction of life in Earth’s history—the only one caused by us.

All of these emergencies are related to climate change, of course. The more our societies develop, the more harm we do to the natural world, including the atmosphere.

“Development” is really global technological escalation by industry to extract more materials more efficiently, destroying more of the planet in its relentless theft of “resources.” The more our societies develop, the less habitat for life is left, and the more we overshoot the ability of the Earth to sustain us and the rest of the species on Earth.

We ignore these other emergencies at our peril. Indeed, ignoring them in favor of the climate emergency often exacerbates these emergencies. When the organizations mentioned above demand increases in electric vehicles, increases in batteries, increases in renewables, and increases in climate mitigation and adaptation (building sea walls, retrofitting and improving roads and bridges, moving entire cities), what they are demanding is more development, not less, which means more harm, not less, to the natural world. For instance, we know that the materials required to supply the projected battery demand in 2035 will require 384 new mines. That’s to supply the materials just for batteries.

Ultimately, what most organizations that support declaring a climate emergency want is not to protect life on this planet, but rather, to protect this way of life: the one we’re living now, the one that’s killing the planet. These organizations believe that we can simply replace CO2-emitting fossil fuels with EVs and so-called renewables, and keep living these ecocidal lifestyles we have become accustomed to.

We know this to be true, because we can see it directly in the actions already taken by the Biden administration, actions that will dramatically increase mining in the U.S. Mining increases the destruction of the natural world, meaning MORE habitat loss, not less. Mining increases toxic pollution. Mining increases deforestation. Mining increases top soil loss. In other words, these actions will significantly worsen all the emergencies we, and all life on the planet, face.

Rather than demand governments around the world declare a “climate emergency,” we could instead demand governments around the world declare an “ecological overshoot emergency.” In place of demands to increase industry, increase mining, and build new cars and new energy infrastructure, we could instead demand governments reduce industry, end mining, help wean us completely away from cars, and dramatically reduce energy extraction, production, and consumption. In place of demands to continue a way of life that cannot possibly continue much longer, with its relentless destruction of the natural world, we could instead demand that all societies around the world center what makes life possible on this planet: flourishing and fecund natural communities, of which we could be a thriving part, rather than dominate and destroy.

Join us and help Protect Thacker Pass, or work to defend the wild places you love. We can’t save the planet by destroying the planet in the name of a “climate emergency.”


* In their October 4 letter to President Biden, the Senators mention how invoking the NEA could “unlock the broad powers of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Stafford Act.” The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) authorizes the president to regulate international commerce after declaring a national emergency, for instance by blocking transactions with corporations based in foreign countries, or by limiting trade with those foreign countries. This would, like the IRA, incentivize building domestic supply chains and manufacturing capabilities. The Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act encourages states to develop disaster preparedness plans, and provides federal assistance programs in the event of disaster. In the event of an emergency, such as a declared climate emergency, the President could direct any federal agency (e.g. FEMA) to use its resources to aid a state or local government in emergency assistance efforts, and to help states prepare for anticipated hazards. In the event of a declared climate emergency, this would unleash federal funds and other incentive programs to states to build and harden infrastructure that is vulnerable to wildfire, floods, severe storms, ocean acidification, and other effects of climate change.

Featured Image: Climate emergency – Melbourne #MarchforScience on #Earthday by Takver from Australia. Via Wikemedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)


What does it take to make an electric car?Are Electric Cars a Solution?

This Part of the Country is Becoming a Sacrifice Zone for Electric Vehicles

This Part of the Country is Becoming a Sacrifice Zone for Electric Vehicles

Editor’s note: As global warming and ecological collapse accelerates, governments and corporations are unwilling to invest in real solutions. Instead, public fear is increasingly being weaponized to mobilize public subsidies for the so-called “green technology” industry, and a new sacrifice zone is emerging.

For example, instead of moving to relocalize and reduce energy use, electric cars are being promoted as a “plug-and-play” substitute for gasoline cars. This approach will do nothing to halt the ecological crisis, will only negligibly reduce rising greenhouse gas emissions, and is accelerating new harms such as an explosion in mining for lithium, cobalt, copper, and other materials.

It’s Not Just Thacker Pass. The Entire Region is on the Chopping Block.

by Elisabeth Robson / Protect Thacker Pass

In their June 2021 Fact Sheet about the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project, Lithium Americas includes a two page document about biodiversity at Thacker Pass and claim they have engineered the project “to minimize its environmental footprint.” On the second page is a map showing the Thacker Pass Project area in the bottom part of the McDermitt Caldera, which straddles the border of Nevada and Oregon.

Lithium Americas claims that protecting the Montana Mountains is their priority, writing “Lithium Americas made the decision in 2018 to move the project south of the Montana Mountains to avoid disturbing sensitive ecological areas located within the mountains,” and that “[T]he project will not involve any direct physical disturbance of sage grouse leks or golden eagle nests”.

Putting aside for the moment that any industrial disturbance to the Thacker Pass area will have significant impacts on wildlife and sensitive areas, including pronghorn who migrate through Thacker Pass, many species of birds, including sage-grouse who are exquisitely sensitive to noise, and countless other species who call Thacker Pass home or rely on it for some part of their life cycle, one might believe, reading their propaganda, that Lithium Americas is going to limit the scope of their mining operations in Thacker Pass to the project area already defined for the Thacker Pass mine. If you think that, you’d be wrong.

In the article “Proposed lithium mine raises worries in Humboldt County” in the Las Vegas Sun on May 3, 2022, Lithium Nevada Corporation, a subsidiary of Lithium Americas, claims again that the project is designed to “avoid environmentally sensitive and rugged terrain”. However, they also say that the project allows for future potential expansions. Lithium Nevada made these plans for potential expansion clear in the project documents the company filed with the SEC and with the Environmental Impact Statement, so this is no secret.

The same article quotes John Hadder, director of Great Basin Resource Watch, who says that in the future a series of mines could line the Montana mountain range, creating, as he says, an “enormous mining district”.


The “Independent Technical Report for the Thacker Pass Project, Humboldt County, Nevada, USA” document filed with the SEC by Lithium Americas on February 15, 2018, includes a map that illustrates the plans the company has for the region, showing the area of Lithium Nevada Corporation’s mining claims and the known areas of lithium mineralization. This map shows the claims and potential mining areas stretching at least 30 miles north of Thacker Pass, through the heart of the Montana Mountains, the last great sage-grouse habitat on the planet.

Why, then, does the company say in their 2-page fact sheet that they moved the Thacker Pass project south to avoid disturbing sensitive ecological areas within the mountains when they have every intention of expanding the mining project into the Montana Mountains where the sage-grouse leks are located? Do they believe that once the first project is begun, it will be easier to get further mining projects in the region approved?

This projected expansion by Lithium Nevada and its parent company, Lithium Americas, along with the two other large lithium claims on the Oregon side of the border, one in the McDermitt Caldera by Australian company Jindalee Resources Limited and the other just outside the Caldera by Acme Lithium Inc., will turn this entire region into a fully industrialized area with roads, mining pits, refineries, waste dumps, a dramatic increase in truck and other vehicle traffic, and new housing and/or man camps and other developments to support the many hundreds if not thousands of workers that will be required to mine the area.

To understand the scope and scale of what is being proposed here, take a look at the mining plans illustrated in three images from the three mining companies—Lithium Nevada, Jindalee, and Acme—combined into one:

Image created by Protect Thacker Pass

As Kale Telage writes in “Lithium Americas: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” on the investing site Seeking Alpha on April 26, 2022, “Thacker Pass may just be the beginning.” The land, the wild beings, and the local people of this area are in for a shock. If built, these industrial projects will utterly and irrevocably destroy this wild and quiet region currently thrumming with life and beauty and turn it forever into a wasteland.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

— T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Featured image: Max Wilbert

Lithium Mining Ain’t Green, with Kevin Emmerich

Lithium Mining Ain’t Green, with Kevin Emmerich

Voices for Nature and Peace podcast features Kevin Emmerich, who was interviewed by Kollibri Sonnenblume about lithium mining. They talk about the harms caused by such mining on the unique ecology in the Thacker Pass area. 

By Elisabeth Robson | Feb 17, 2021:

Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume interviews Kevin Emmerich from Basin & Range Watch about lithium mining, including the planned mine at Thacker Pass. This is an informative interview about how lithium mining works, and the impacts of lithium mining. From Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume, at Radio Free Sunroot:

The ugly truth behind the in-demand element

Lithium mining is back in the news these days, with activists occupying the site of a proposed mine in northern Nevada. (See episode 53 for my interview with Will Falk, one of the occupiers.) So I contacted Kevin Emmerich of Basin & Range Watch, to get more details about how lithium mining works, and what its ecological effects are. Basin & Range Watch is a desert defense group based in southern Nevada. They track industrial energy developments on public lands in the US southwest, and I consider them to be the premier online resource for learning about and keeping up-to-date with these projects, which include solar and wind.

Kevin & I spoke on January 30th, and we discussed the proposed lithium mine at Thacker Pass; other projects at Clayton Valley and Rhyolite Ridge; the massive use of water in mining operations; the unique ecology of these sites in the desert and the Great Basin; the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and how it was assaulted by the Trump administration; the prospects for exploitation and conservation of the desert under the Biden administration; the false choice of fossil fuels vs. “green” energy; and the importance of efficiency in reducing overall energy use and pollution.

Lithium Mining Ain’t Green, with Kevin Emmerich

For more on the issue:

Car Sick Part 2

Car Sick Part 2

In the second part of this two part series Sarah summarizes insights into the harm caused to mother earth and offers the reader sharp analysis regarding the dominant culture and what we can do to resist.

Featured image by Elisabeth Robson    

Listen, I know Trump fatigue is real and people need time to recover from it. Trump fatigue was largely manufactured by mainstream media obsession. If the media had covered all of Obama’s terrible shit we would have had Obama fatigue too.  Yes, Trump was BAD. But a fascist dictator? C’mon. If Trump was a fascist dictator then what do you call the president before him who dropped more bombs on innocent civilians than Trump did, deported more human beings than Trump did, who started a fracking boom? What do you call that prior president’s vice president (who is now President) who helped George W. lead the charge in invading Iraq?  The U.S. military is the biggest polluter in the world! Biden has said he will INCREASE the already bloated military budget. If only Elizabeth Warren was president, she had plans to “green” the Military, lol.

There is no way to “green” industrial civilization or Imperialism.

To suggest otherwise is delusional. It’s like saying it’s better to bludgeon someone with a solar powered chainsaw, handcrafted by women in a remote African Village paid a “fair wage” than to murder someone with a gas-powered chainsaw.

Murder is murder.

Rape is rape.

Presidents are presidents: They suck. They do whatever they need to do to hold down the fort of Imperialism, including lying. Yes, Trump was unique in the number of lies he told (an average of 22 a day). This sucks because now anyone who lies less than him, like Biden, is seen as somehow honest by comparison. If it were not for Trump, Biden would be one of the most dishonest presidents ever! He lies in a similar way to Trump. In a way that the rest of us don’t lie. If they get caught in a lie, they lie more, they never apologize for the lie or the damage created by the lie. Biden has claimed he was against the Iraq war from the beginning, but records demonstrates otherwise.

“But Trump incited a riot!” you say, “He’s just SO bad!”

Biden’s Justice Department uses that riot as an excuse to rush a new “domestic terrorism” law; 14 states have moved to enact new Anti-protest laws, laws that will largely hurt groups like BLM, Indigenous water protectors fighting pipelines, and will stop “terrorists” like Max and Will. You cannot call Trump a dictator and then have Biden’s inauguration look like something out of North Korea! Biden’s inauguration speech was written by no one.

To have Lady Ga Ga come out and sing the national anthem was totally done to legitimize this presidency and this “democracy” as cool because most Americans view Lady Ga Ga as a counter cultural, trailblazing hero. She is a faux rebel. A real rebel, a real revolutionary, a real anti-authoritarian committed to real change, would have agreed to sing but when they got up there on live TV would have pointed out that the national anthem was written by a racist, slave owning, war hungry dude. The last verse of the Star Spangled Banner is now left out because of its racist content.

In the documentary about Lady Ga Ga she talks about dealing with all these high-up super powerful dickhead men in the music business industry. She recounted meetings where she felt totally objectified, felt like they expected her to be their whore, to which she replied…

“That’s not why I’m here, I’m not a receptacle for your pain. I’m not just a place for you to put it.”

Nice speech.

Maybe try applying it to the MOST powerful men in the world that had you performing the Empire’s theme song like a trained circus monkey!  It is easy to see Trump as one of those music moguls, but it is disappointing that Lady Ga Ga cannot see Biden as that kind of figure as well. Just ask Tara Reade. Or Anita Hill.

J-Lo, a person whose Puerto Rican bloodline no doubt had their land stolen by White Europeans, sang Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’.  Currently 98% of U.S. land is owned by white people, mostly men, so to sing this song is the height of hypocrisy. Woody Guthrie wrote that song as a kind of parody, mocking the overtly patriotic song ‘God Bless America’, and as a response to all the poverty he had seen traveling around the country.  It is not until you get to the last verses of his song, that you realize his affectionate patriotism was sarcastic:

“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.  The sign was painted, said: ‘Private Property.’  But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.  This land was made for you and me.

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple,  By the relief office I saw my people;  As they stood there hungry, I stood there wondering if  God blessed America for me?”

The original sentiment Woody intended does not go nearly far enough: “this land” was made for WHITE men, this land was stolen, and this country was built with the stolen bodies of Africans.  The oppression of poor whites that the song speaks to was on top of the enslavement of blacks, which was on top of the attempting erasure of Natives.

The belief that land can belong to anyone is part of our colonized thinking.

We are meant to live as PART of Her, not own or use Her. The fact that ‘Lithium America’ owns the rights to the lithium there is insane. Bolivia is home to the largest lithium deposits in the world. Evo Morales, the democratically elected president was outed in a coup with the help of the U.S. Morales refused to cooperate with international corporations wanting access to that lithium. Morales wanted the profits made from the mining to go back to the people, so he had to go. (He is back in now).

Of course it would be better for the impoverished people of Bolivia to benefit from the selling of that lithium instead of further enriching large corporations. This argument keeps us from focusing on the bigger issue of stopping the extraction. Obama said Fracking is an essential “transition” fuel. The big corporation ‘Rio Tinto Group’ told Native Tribes in Oak Flat, AZ that the copper mine they want to start there will be fine. They have damaged Aboriginal land and communities in Australia with a huge copper mining project.

We are so deprived,  neglected, separated from Mother Earth.

The violence and dominance over Her has been normalized, made to seem necessary for our survival when the opposite is true.  We have been bottle fed the teat of Industrial Civilization, never given the chance to bond with Her, to know a nurturing like no other. It may be too late to fully bond with Her like our ancestors did. She and we are perhaps too damaged, we should still try. We can start by asking the most difficult questions. Can we bring ourselves back from the brink of extreme distraction? Can we at least have the courtesy of being present with Her as she nurses the wounds we inflicted on Her?

As Arundhati Roy asks in her essay

“Can We Leave the Bauxite in the Mountain?”

The Lithium at Thacker Pass will allow us to continue a lifestyle that prevents us from consciously feeling the pain of what is happening to Her and to our own bodies. We must FEEL it to heal it. Mining that lithium is not about “saving the planet”, it’s about saving ourselves from feeling the outrageous pain of what we are doing. It enables us to bypass guilt and grief, so we get to feel like we are doing something good. We want to be rewarded without the work, while our Mother is being mindlessly sacrificed.

It was not until I did my walk to the Gulf that I started to understand how much car culture has shaped modern industrial humans.

It has reduced and simplified our existence in ways that disconnects us from the complexity of life. Our immersion in this complexity means it is hard to see the consequences of our actions.  When you walk along highways for months as I did, you can see the devastation much more clearly. You feel the exhaust building up on your skin. You see so much small roadkill that you do not see from a car: insects, birds, snakes, toads, lizards, mice, voles.

We feel bad when we hit a larger animal, but when the little guys bite the dust we do not notice. We do not want to see or feel this shit. Our avoidance causes even more pain. I read about one study where a rubber turtle was put on the side of the road and a significant number of vehicles swerved to hit it. We have a sense that there is so much stacked pain that needs grieving, we fear it. The irony is, refusing to feel the grief will destroy us, if we do not go there TOGETHER. Recreating a culture that FEELS together is crucial. I can count on one hand, the people who feel as I do and I don’t live near any of them.

Being alone when facing complex grief and trauma can take a toll on us, and since we have no intact culture of dealing properly with our emotions many of us do not start. Climate scientist Peter Kalmus, is a mess. His wife is sick of him (as many I’m sure are sick of me). He has no cultural collective to hold him, or me in this time. I have had long-covid for 10 months now, the symptoms are debilitating. Covid is an illness caused by industrial civilization’s attack on Her, as a byproduct of ecocide. I have spent significant time involved in environmental activism and grieving the loss of Nature. What was happening OUT THERE, is now happening inside of me. We have been trained by this sick culture to think that individuals are self-contained, like The Great Basin being a self-contained endorheic *watershed (*an ancient Greek word meaning “to flow within”). We live without the knowledge that our actions have far reaching impacts. It is beyond dangerous.

We are all car sick.

The Earth Herself is car sick. The answer is not developing new and better motion sickness drugs. The answer is to STOP driving. The real Road Rage should be focused on the development of roads themselves, the veins of the industrial beast. The Mother’s veins, rivers, roots, mycelium, are sucked dry. We will never be able to extract enough, buy enough, or consume enough to ever “meet our energy needs”, that’s just code for “pain aversion”. There are not enough resources in the world to ever fill the bottomless pit that has been excavated in our souls by industrial culture. Our values mean nothing if we do not act on them. Those delusional boneheads that stormed the capitol may be misguided but at least they were acting on their values.

Meanwhile, many of the people who say they care the most are sharing Bernie Mitten Memes. We cannot meme our way out of this. That insurrection on the capitol could be used as a model for actual real movements. What would happen if thousands of Mothers stormed the capitol in the name of their children’s fucked future.  The 1963 Children’s march in Birmingham resulted in thousands of children being arrested and sprayed with firehoses. It causes a public outcry. It pushed JFK to pass basic civil rights laws. Some call this “political theatre” – creating a scene so terrible and shocking that the public says ENOUGH and the leaders are forced to do something.

I am scared.

We have become jaded, numb, with such a strong aversion to pain! The pictures of dead animals may not be enough to reach us. Nor was seeing children in cages at the border. Or seeing children in Flint, poisoned. Seeing Indigenous people at Standing Rock terrorized. Seeing the devastation caused by American Imperialism in Yemen, or Syria, or Palestine, or Venezuela.

We must help one another find the courage, strength and tenderness to ‘be with’ what is happening. We must figure out TOGETHER how to respond, work out together how to find the tools. Preserving and conserving is not enough. These terms have the word SERVE in them, as if Nature is here to serve us. This language promotes separation culture and a human supremacist mindset.

Activism needs to evolve.

We need to remember. Derrick Jensen reminds us of the etymology of the word remember: to become a member once again. Everything we do in this perilous moment must be about returning to our roots, about re-establishing broken relationships, about remembering…as in becoming members of the Earth Community once again. Her community is incredibly resilient but there are limits. Some of those limits have been reached. We must ask how can we become responsible community members once again? We must sentence ourselves to a lifetime community service. We could start by listening.

Deep listening used to be a common occurrence for our ancestors and for those who still live with and rest in Her (fading) bosom. I worked for many years at a Garden Center. It got to the point that when I was in there with all those potted plants (most of them refugees ripped from their original ecosystems from around the world, or frankenflora bred and hybridized to serve our aesthetics and needs instead of Hers), I could literally hear them screaming! It was a chaotic cacophony, like a symphony orchestra warming up before they start to play. I knew these domesticated plants would never get to play in Her beautiful melodic orchestra. To escape the noise, I would often go out to the woods behind the greenhouse and imagine being small enough to sit under the canopy of the lilypad-like Mayapples while taking in the concert being put on by a nearby band of white Shooting Stars (a spring wildflower), bobbing their heads to a rhythm we no longer keep time to.

The voices of the dominant culture are repeating themselves non-stop. I too repeat myself as I challenge the dominant narrative. My dear friends, there will come a time where the only thing that “helps” isn’t donating money, or sharing posts, but physically putting YOUR body between HER body and the warheads of Empire, as Max and Will are doing at Thacker Pass. Do not be fooled by the certified “green” stamps of approval plastered all over the missiles. Industrial Civilization does not use “friendly fire”, it is a warship that has every intention of going out with a BANG, taking as many victims down with it as possible.

The proposed “transition of the energy sector” is a lie, the real transition is happening outside the artificial life support systems. It is happening inside us.

A longtime environmental activist, Sarah lives in Ohio US, she loves writing and refusing to mow her lawn. You can read her article published in the Washington Post here. 

Please check out Max and Will’s website for writings, interviews, videos, updates and ways to help them stop this wretched Lithium Mine.

Car Sick Part 2

Car Sick Part 1

In this two part article Sarah describes her experiences of direct action, of insight into the harm caused to mother earth and offers the reader sharp analysis regarding the dominant culture. The second part will be published on the 14th February 2021

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My friend Tyler told me he was heading to Minnesota to join Indigenous Water Protectors protesting an oil Pipeline. I felt sad as I could not go. Tyler and I spent 4 months at Standing Rock. The Indigenous led resistance was strong, aiming to protect the sacred from the onslaught of destruction.

I took to Facebook to ask if anyone could go in my place. No one has volunteered (so far). I caught wind of another resistance camp. On January 15th, activists Max Wilbert and Will Falk stationed themselves on public land at Thacker Pass, Nevada, an area that is part of the Great Basin (the largest watershed in North America, spanning much of Nevada and into parts of Utah, Oregon, California, Idaho, Wyoming, and Mexico).

I always say that the alien invasion is already here because we live like homesick aliens visiting and trashing a foreign Planet with no respect for the local customs, not realizing that Earth is our estranged motherland!

For today’s installment of ‘Know the Goddamn Planet You Live On’

In a closed endorheic watershed, such as The Great Basin, water is retained within the area with no water flowing out to other external bodies of water, such as rivers and oceans. Instead the water drains to form seasonal and permanent lakes, ponds and swamps, and relies primarily on evaporation to keep moisture balance.

Max and Will are camped in Thacker Pass to protest the Lithium America’s right to develop a huge Lithium mine. Lithium is a lightweight metal used in the industrial manufacturing of everything from cell phones and laptop batteries to ceramics to high tech military equipment to prescription drugs. The Lithium stores at Thacker Pass, if mined, will mainly be used for making batteries for electric cars, all part of the plan to usher in the transition away from fossil fuels to ‘green energy’.

“Well what’s wrong with that?” you may ask, “Aren’t electric vehicles better for the environment?” “Better for the environment” may be a euphemism for “slightly less horrifically devastating for life on Earth but also may have unknown consequences that could end up being worse for the environment than the original thing that was supposed to be the worst thing ever”. THAT is hard to brand, so just stamp “SUSTAINABLE”!

It may be possible for one woman’s experience of rape to not be as horrific as another woman’s but it is still rape. The U.N. pass an international law saying nuclear weapons are illegal. The majority of nations sign up, but the nine countries known to have nuclear warheads of course did not. The U.S. and Russia are roughly tied with having the most weapons, somewhere around 125,000 between them. The other 7 countries with nuclear weapons have less than 2000 weapons between them. In any case, a small fraction of these weapons are enough to destroy all life on earth.

It is estimated that the amount of Life lost due to Industrial Civilization will already take Mother Earth millions of years to restore. The current trajectory due to industrial civilization could result in life being unable to be restored to full health.

In his article Activists Occupy Site of Proposed Lithium Mine in Nevada, Kollibri terre Sonnenblume writes that this Lithium mine….

“….would impact nearly 5700 acres—close to nine square miles—and which would include a giant open pit mine over two square miles in size, a sulfuric acid processing plant, and piles of tailings. The operation would use 850 million gallons of water annually and 26,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day. The ecological damage in this delicate, slow-to-heal landscape would be permanent, at least on the human scale. At risk are a number of animal and plant species including the threatened Greater Sage Grouse, Pygmy Rabbits, the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, a critically imperiled endemic snail species known as the King’s River Pyrg, old growth Big Sagebrush and Crosby’s Buckwheat, to name just those that are locally significant. Also present in the area are Golden Eagles, Pronghorn Antelope, and Bighorn Sheep.”

Sometimes you have to break eggs to make an omelet, right?

Right now all we have is a shit ton of broken eggs and no omelet, all for nothing! Well, except for making a handful of white men extraordinarily wealthy while they build their gigantic metal penises in the form of buildings and towers and missiles. In the process of breaking all these eggs we also broke many of the birds who were laying the eggs, the insects the birds relied on for food, the plants the insects eat, we broke the watersheds that fed the plants. We broke the water that fed the watersheds!!!!! That is right, people…we broke water!

We have been led to believe that when it comes to the environment being damaged the means justify the ends. We are approaching the end and I would challenge anyone to find even a crumb of justification. The “means” turned out to be pretty mean in the end.

I wonder how much longer anyone will be around to record these things?

As Mother Earth’s body is ravaged, we make scientific notes on how she reacts. I think it is safe to say at this point that record keeping is not enough of a motivation to make us stop the torture. We do not realize we’re in the throes of THE END mainly because a false sense of security, being generated by the artificial life support systems we are on. Those who benefit the least from securities are busy surviving. Those who DO have the luxury to think about it need to step up NOW. We cannot keep using fossil fuels to run artificial life support systems nor keep the machines going. The natural life support systems are being destroyed at an increasing rate for short term profit and unnecessary luxuries.

It is time to pull the plug on artificial life support systems and see what happens. The fact is, the plug will be pulled one way or another. If we pull the plug TOGETHER the transition may be smoother as everything collapses. It is likely, we probably won’t voluntarily pull the plug, so get ready for a world of pain…one that lots of people (and non-human beings) are already experiencing.

While at Standing Rock, part of me had to overlook the narrative that stopping these fossil fuel projects included replacing them with “green, sustainable, and/or renewable” energy. I happen to disagree with this Buckminster Fuller quote:

 “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

This quote speaks to the kind of logic driving the push to replace fossil fuels with green energy. The logic says we have to keep using “low carbon” fuels like fracked gas and Nuclear energy as a way to “transition” to the “good, pure, guilt-free, rainbow-powered” fuels. We have bought the false premise that green energy will make fossil fuels obsolete by using a better DIFFERENT model.

The ‘new model’ is an illusion.

Green Energy is a different WAY to power the existing model. Mother Earth is shouting “I can’t breathe!” as the weight of Industrial Civilization’s knee digs into Her back. Switching to “renewables” will still leave us in the same situation. A system that extracts without replenishing, exploits, destroys, creates inequality and degrading human hierarchies. The same system that strengthens patriarchy and reinforces human supremacy over nature, promotes competition and conflict instead of cooperation and peace, that keeps us separated from Earth, from one another and ourselves. This system categorizes us as either master, consumer, or slave.

A sentiment like the Buckminster Fuller one can only come out of a culture that is disconnected from reality, from intuition and our ancestral wisdom. We are no longer standing on the shoulders of our ancestors. We are paving over and trampling on their unmarked graves.

Nature is the model that works!

All this fanfare over Biden returning to the Paris Climate Deal (PCD) can fuck off, it is “too little too late”. It will not be anywhere near enough to make a difference. It does not matter if we return to the Paris Agreement or not. We need to return to the agreement we used to have with Mother Earth! She gave us Life. We promise not to take more than we need. We offer respect, thanks and praise.  We need to return to the systems that She set up, systems we arrogantly think we can control/improve. Systems humans have lived within for over 90% of our existence as a species.

We must come to understand that it is not the way that cars are powered that is the problem.  Cars are the problem. There is no “sustainable” number of cars.  There is no such thing as “good” gas mileage. The reality is that cars are killers. Car culture makes killers out of us. There is no way to live with killers. They must be stopped. Using non-renewable resources in the current infrastructure while we wait for a better solution means we pollute and kill the Earth.  There is no “better” to be had within the context of industrial civilization.

Why bother if it’s over?

You only say that because you have been trained to look in all the wrong places for all the wrong points. The solutions being proposed by the system to “save the planet” are moot points.  We have just been disconnected from the truth. The point is both painfully obvious and mysteriously elusive.

The point is Mountain Heather.

The point is Puffins.

The point is spiders using electricity to magically fly through the air!

The point is the whimsical Maui dolphin, the smallest Dolphin in the world who never hurt anyone but SOMEHOW there are only about 50 left due to “overfishing”.

The point is that when a tree falls in the forest, other trees keep the stump alive in a process scientists call hydraulic coupling.

We must let go of doing what’s “better” for the environment. What it needed is to completely and immediately stop ALL means of production that is not necessary. This may not happen if we keep believing in money. I remember once seeing this headline in the fake parody newspaper ‘The Onion’ that read:

‘U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion’

We are facing our own death and the death of countless other beings and still, we refuse to face the reality. As Terrence McKenna says,

“The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer.”

Electric and hybrid cars are not the solution to our dying world, this ‘solution’ is not addressing the root problem.

It reminds me of that old children’s book ‘There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.’ Its grotesque imagery is a cautionary tale. To make even one more new car (electric or otherwise) at this point in the collapse of the biosphere is literally insane. The amount of resources, by-waste, and pollution involved in the PRODUCTION of a vehicle is so great that it will NEVER be able make up for the damage incurred by its production.

We must greatly reduce and then eliminate the need for cars by creating localization of every aspect of our lives. We must stop calling alternative sources of energy “renewables”! The lithium mine may result in the land needing hundreds of years to renew.  I took some of these roadkill photos while walking from Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 after the BP Oil Spill. The dead animals from my Roadkill photo album did not care if they were killed by 100% renewable energy instead of by gas guzzlers. Walking all day long for 3 months drastically altered my perception of time and space.

I remember reading somewhere how there were some Native American tribes that were very resistant to adopting Horse travel, which was not part of their culture until the Spanish brought horses to the American continent in the 16th century. These tribes strongly believed humans were not meant to travel that fast and doing so would propel our body forward while leaving our spirit behind resulting in a fractured state of being.

I felt this the first time I rode in a car after my long walk had finished. It felt dangerous, I adapted.

Something essential and elemental is missing in environmental activism culture.

I will admit that I am afraid that something might be on the verge of being lost forever. Taking action can be a good way to re-activate what is left of the magic of the natural world and that same magic within us. There are still humans left who are the guardians of that magic, but they are greatly outnumbered. Industrial Civilization is closing in on them by the day. It can’t just be about stopping bad things and bad people, like pipelines and presidents. Western Environmental activism needs to evolve past this. Max and Will are embarked on that next chapter of activism evolution. This evolution must be centered around a brutal obliterating honesty, so sharp that it cuts straight through the fat of hope and the tendons of delusion and muscles of bargaining. Right down to the bone.

If we do not break free from the mental and emotional prisons of Industrial Civilization, we will not be able to get past false diagnosis and solutions. Green New Deal is bogus. We need is a ‘Get Real Deal’. It’s truth telling time. We must admit we don’t always know what the truth is. I used to think solar panels and wind turbines were the answer until I learned more and the truth changed.

The final permits for this lithium mine were fast tracked by Trump before he left office in a way that is more difficult to reverse through presidential orders. It is unlikely Biden would stop it, he already has a “save the environment” token, due to his executive order to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This will serve as a powerful pacifier for liberals. To highlight this point: we have a MLK Day so we do not need a Malcolm X or a Fred Hampton Day. Plus we would not want to offer a radical view now, would we?

Biden is being lauded for stopping Keystone XL.

This culture greatly praises men for doing the t simplest things. I am aware the Biden administration has suspended new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on U.S. lands and waters. But only for 60 days.  Naomi Klein speaks of the tactic of “Shock and Awe” that the ruling elite uses as a means to wear us all down so we give up. The strategy of “Balk and Stall” (copyright, Sarah Baker) is where those in power make a big deal out of decreeing something to be bad to stall while they figure out how to get out of stopping the bad thing.

“FOR 60 DAYS” the permits will be suspended, says the Biden people. It is the fine print that we must see. The “Balk and Stall” I witnessed at Standing Rock, was impressive, after the Army Core of Engineers announced that the DAPL pipeline construction would have to stop until an environmental impact statement was conducted. The celebrations were so intoxicating that it was as if people could not see the continued construction. Similarly, Trump’s wall is still being built even though Biden said he would stop it! The Cleveland Indians announce they will consider changing the name of their team. I have a name for you: how about the Cleveland Colonizers. Their mascot can be a Smallpox infested Blanket.

I was going to post this essay on Inauguration Day but figured I’d wait until the tranquilizing effects of that patriotism packed lullaby for liberals started to wear off. I didn’t see the entire pageantry of that day, but what I did see was quite spew worthy. There was this overall sentiment of: “Shhhhhh, it’s ok, you just had a bad 4 year long nightmare but everything’s fine now, a Democrat is in charge again, so here’s a glass of water made from the joy filled tears of all the Latin American mothers who have been instantaneously reunited with their children at the border. Now let us get you tucked in so you can go back to sleep and dream about Impeachment hearings and Bernie memes.”

A longtime environmental activist, Sarah lives in Ohio US, she loves writing and refusing to mow her lawn. You can read her article published in the Washington Post here.