by Elisabeth Robson
Beginning tomorrow, Friday September 20, and going through September 27, there are a whole host of climate-related actions happening nationally (USA) and globally, including climate strikes and marches. These climate strikes are being heavily promoted by big green organizations on down to local communities, and the media plays along by making sure to note in coverage about the upcoming strikes that they are “youth-led”. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. The youth themselves, of course, believe they are doing the right thing, and certainly their message that we need to do something about the climate catastrophe is true. But these youth are being supported and, one might even say, manipulated by a tangle of pro-business, pro-capitalism, pro-growth, anti-nature organizations, corporations, and governments.
Bill McKibben writes about the climate strikes in The Guardian (“Why you should join the global climate strike” Wednesday, September 18, 2019). As in other recent articles he’s written, McKibben gives himself away as a front-man for big green organizations, including the one he started himself, 350.org, which have been co-opted by the solar, wind, and carbon capture industry.
He asks us to strike because…
“… sun and wind are now the cheapest way to generate power around the world”—if you ignore the impacts of land-grabbing, mining, manufacturing, transportation, maintenance, and disposal…
“… this could be the great opportunity…Green New Deals have been proposed around the world; they are a way forward”—the “great opportunity” he is speaking of is a way to keep our capital-demanding growth economy going so that the rich can continue to get richer at the expense of the natural world and the poor… Green New Deals are all growth plans, they all involve extracting more, building more, destroying more of the natural world…
“… batteries are ever cheaper – we can now store sunshine at night, and wind for a calm day”—again he is acting as front man for the solar and wind industries which are, as I write this, destroying forests, rivers, deserts, wildlife, habitat, and poor communities around the world, while the materials required for batteries and battery storage (lithium, iridium, copper, zinc, etc) are incredibly destructive to mine and manufacture…
“… indigenous people around the world are trying to protect their rightful land from the coal and oil companies”—and they are also trying to protect their rightful land from mines and dams and solar and wind factories and installations, because all those are harmful to land and communities just like oil is…
“… young people have asked us to. In a well-ordered society, when kids make a reasonable request their elders should say yes”—in fact it is the “elders” who are running the show, the elders who are running organizations like We Mean Business and GCCA who are working feverishly behind the scenes of the so-called youth-led movements to make sure that governments and corporations will make plenty of money on the fourth industrial revolution “demanded” by the people.
McKibben mixes his pro-business, pro-growth reasons for striking with just enough nice nature-sounding reasons to mask, for most people, that what he’s really doing is helping the corporations behind the fourth industrial revolution, by tricking “the people” into “demanding” action, believing they are part of a grass roots movement, when in fact those demands are being manufactured by the very organizations who will “respond” to those demands with more growth, more capitalism, and more extraction.
Don’t fall for it. True grass roots movements don’t have billionaires backing them. True grass roots movements don’t make vague demands of the very governments and organizations that have failed for 40 years to do anything at all. True grassroots activists take concrete actions that actually help: they sue the government and corporations when they break the law; they stand in front of bulldozers building pipelines and cutting down trees; they help inner city people learn how to build gardens in once empty parking lots to supply fresh vegetables; they change the zoning and planning laws in their own communities. Difficult and sometimes dangerous work that actually makes a difference.
Don’t waste your time on fake movements with vague asks that don’t actually take on the systems of power. The people behind these fake movements don’t give a damn about the planet, and they don’t give a damn about any of us. They care about money and power. That is it.
Do something real instead.
Image by Lunae Parracho for Reuters: Ka’apor Indian warriors tie up illegal loggers in the Amazon rainforest. Tired of the lack of government assistance in keeping loggers off their lands, they and four other tribes monitor their territory themselves.
“Before releasing them, one of the warriors told the loggers on the ground: “We’re doing this because you are stubborn. We told you not to come back, but you didn’t listen.”
They then set fire to five trucks and three tractors equipped to pull down trees and transport them from the jungle. They confiscated chainsaws and shotguns that they carried back to the village saying: “Jande pairata” or “We are strong.””
Now that is taking action.
Image credit: Max Wilbert