“This is really the fight of our time.”
~ Bill McKibben, American author and activist
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”
~ Meg Cabot
“We all face a desperate battle against a looming and intensifying climate catastrophe. It is the battle of our generation. Will you join my call to arms?”
~ Minister Tony de Brum of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, addressing the United Nations Security Council
Content on this page:
First, watch this.
And then this:
“Bill McKibben’s Thought Bubble: The Fight of Our Time” – published on YouTube.com on 9 August 2012
“For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest.”
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
In February 2013, Michael Brune, Sierra Club president Allison Chin and Jim Dougherty of the Club’s board of directors were among the 48 people arrested in front of the White House during the first sanctioned act of civil disobedience in the Sierra Club’s history.
Fracking – Mass Acts of Creative Disobedience
A witnessing to thuggery as police deal with non-violent protesters at the Balcombe anti-fracking site.
Published on youtube.com on 19 August 2013.
“We are not listened to, and the stakes are pretty high. I want to be able to look my six-months-old grandson in the eyes and say: ‘I had a crack at this’.”
~ Anthony Gleeson, climate activist, Australia
Australian activists are using ‘Zombie-A-Frack’ to target fracking companies for their poisonous ways of extracting shale gas. Published on youtube.com on 21 December 2012.
Does the current planetary emergency with threats of a runaway greenhouse effect justify direct action, resistance and even civil disobedience? Yes, I believe so, because at the moment, as a species, we are pretty busy doing the wrong things. And there are no signs that the ‘carbon madness’ is going to stop.
Just to give a few examples of what I mean when I say ‘carbon madness’:
1,200 new coal-fired power plants are being proposed worldwide, three-quarters of them in India and China. Companies are spending the best part of one trillion US dollars a year (comparable to the US defence budget, or more than US$ 100 for every person on the planet) to find and develop yet more fossil fuel reserves. And this happens while scientists keep warning us that we have no hope of holding the rise in the planetary temperature below 2°C degrees unless global emissions peak by 2015. The health, wealth, infrastructure and ability to maintain basic services of cities will increasingly be degraded as our planet warms and our weather worsens.
What the world will look like if we allow it to get warmer than 2°C is explained here.
Every year we human beings pump over 30 gigatons more of CO2 into the atmosphere. Scientists tell us that we can only put 500 gigatons more of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still keep global temperature rise below 2°C degrees, a goal that nearly every country on Earth has agreed to meet. Yet the fossil fuel industry has 2,795 gigatons of CO2 in their coal, oil and gas reserves, five times more than we can safely release. And if it is up the the investors and shareholders, they will dig, pump and drill it all up, and it will be burned.
This is a dangerous and desperate situation. And this is why 81 percent of 1,660 sustainability experts see activism as central to further progress on the carbon emissions problem.
The history of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela suggests that the path of resistance has often been essential to needed social change. We need to build a global social movement for sustainability — we need to build public pressure for an energy reform. It could the only way to make changes happen fast enough.
The challenge is how to get people to care about future generations. We need to figure that one out — very quickly.
Inspirational stories of resistance
“Yes, we want to declare Poowong coalmine and gasfield free.”
Agreement of an overwhelming 550 of the 600 landholders in Poowong in Australia.
In the northern part of the Australian state New South Wales, communities have set up months-long blockades, refusing to allow mining company trucks, machinery and gas drills on to properties.
How 4 people and 2 aprons wrecked the launch of the Harper Conservatives’ 2014 PR strategy.
Published on youtube.com on 17 January 2014
Occupying carbon polluters
In December 2012, the Australian activist group ‘Quit Coal’ wanted to put a giant banner saying ‘Government Funded Global Warming’ on a cooling tower at Yallourn Power Station, protesting government support for brown-coal power generators.
Here is their story. And here is what The Australian wrote.
On 29 October 2012, 16 people scaled the chimneys of West Burton gas-fired power station in the UK, shutting it down and halting further construction.
Fossil fuel resistance
“It’s no accident that the emerging fossil fuel resistance has sent so many people to jail in the last few years. That’s because the overwhelming wealth of the fossil fuel industry means we can’t outspend them; we need other currencies with which to work. Passion, spirit, creativity. And sometimes we have to spend our bodies,” said activist Tim DeChristopher who served 18 months in federal custody for an inspired act of civil disobedience.
More and more activists are doing what they can to spread this message. And they are ready to go to prison for doing it.
By the end of the day, this whole discussion about climate change and global warming boils down to a question about morality. Whether you care about the future, and future generations, or whether you only care about yourself, your family and the life you live right now.
It is about whether you are ready to take a stand, because you believe that it is right to do so.
And if you actually do agree, but are not doing anything anyway, then why is that? It is time to make up your mind whether you will be a chicken with the head in the sand or stand at the courage of your convictions. It’s about saying ‘no’ to short-sighted destruction of the balance of the Earth’s ecosystem. Also when it comes to that drilling which conveniently brings money in to finance green project, or investing in new shale gas explorations — as in the case of the Norwegians, the Danes and the Canadians.
Good examples of efficient and successful activism are rare, but they do exist. Some of them are listed below. It need not be that difficult when you have morals and dare to do what is the right thing to do.
“I see my job as not helping people to feel they can be safe, but rather showing and illuminating where the paths for activism lie.”
~ Sandra Steingraber, biologist, mother and climate activist
What is a concerned citizen to do?
“To date the campaign to protect Earth’s climate has been mostly law-abiding. But that is changing as campaigners, including many young people, accept that they must take greater risks. (…) Over the last 20 years environment groups around the world have been models of civic decorum, playing the conventional game of political lobbying and public relations. But some have tired of being fobbed off with promises.
In a situation where the facts overwhelmingly demand sweeping measures to protect humanity yet our political system seems unwilling to respond, what is a concerned citizen to do? In a land where the voters can choose between a party that believes in incremental progress (while overseeing a rush to accelerate coal exports) and one that is dominated by deniers who refuse to accept the scientific facts, how can anyone make a difference?
Is it enough, for a person of conscience, to sit back and wait for the harms to become intolerable? For some, including the Greenpeace activists, the situation is impossible. When all legitimate means have been exhausted, the only alternative to apathy and despair appears to be civil disobedience. They feel that their duty to a higher law overwhelms their allegiance to those on the statute books.
Such a duty can never endorse violence, but that does not rule out physical acts aimed at preventing the harm being done. The kind of action taken by the activists from the Rainbow Warrior shines a light on the hypocrisy of authorities who use smooth words to persuade us that they accept the danger yet vigorously promote the activities that are making it worse. We can expect today’s dramatic events to be the opening shot in a long campaign.”
Quit Coal: Acts of Civil disobedience are necessary
“Did you hear about our daring Flinders St Station banner drop on Monday? Three of our brave activists scaled the iconic building to drop an 84 square metre banner from the top, gaining national media attention and highlighting Premier Napthine’s backward stance on climate change and renewable energy.
While these acts of civil disobedience are costly, they are also necessary. When governments fail to listen and the media distorts the truth, it’s up to everyday people, like you and I, to take action and create change.
The last twelve months have been a busy time for us. We occupied Ted Baillieu’s office; our moratorium campaign played a large part in the government announcing a moratorium on fracking in Vic; and we helped win the fight to Stop HRL building a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe valley.
Who could forget that epic banner drop from parliament house in September that drew international attention to the threat of coal to our survival? Or December’s Yallourn power station action – the longest power station occupation in Australian history!
We’ve had die-ins at ANZ supporting the fight against coal financing, we’ve leafleted countless suburbs and events, visited towns threatened by CSG all over Gippsland and even seen Poowong declare itself Victoria’s first CSG free town!
Throughout it all Quit Coal has worked collaboratively with other dedicated individuals and organisations around Australia for climate justice and every month, a new host of dynamic and committed volunteers join us in the fight against coal and gas mining and climate change.
We look forward to fighting alongside you for a cleaner, healthier future for all Victorians.
→ The Conversation – 24 April 2013:
When the time comes to disobey: civil disobedience and coal
Greenpeace’s attempt to stop a ship carrying Australian coal is an opening shot in what is likely to be an escalating campaign of civil disobedience directed at Australia’s export coal industry. By Clive Hamilton, who until early 2008 was Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Australia’s leading progressive think tank
The work of 350.org is immensely important in this respect, in particular for America — the five percent of the worlds population who allegedly are responsible for 50 percent of the worlds pollution — and where three percent of them, nine million people, are employed in the fossil fuel industry.
In Norway, 40,000 people are employed in the fossil fuels industry. In average, each of these 40,000 persons have an income of 170,000 dollars a year, (around US$ 10,000 a month), and in 2013, every third employee expects to get a 10 percent pay raise.
On Forbes list of the world’s 2000 leading companies, seven of those who made it to the lists’ Top 20 are oil and gas companies. Together, just these seven companies alone made profits of 175 billion US dollars in 2012.
The United Nations has calculated that economic losses from floods, earthquakes and drought and other natural disasters since 2000 are in the range of 2,500 billion US dollars, according to a 246-page UN report released on 15 May 2103. With carbon emissions continuing to rise, this is nothing as compared to what can be expected in the coming decades.
For too many years, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the UN report launch event, financial markets have placed greater value on short-term returns than on sustainability and resilience, which in the long-term are far more attractive and can save millions of dollars.
No one has so far been able to do anything about that.
According to the American author and activist Bill McKibben, the real problem humanity is facing is that “rich people feel immune to these problems.” The fossil fuel industry is richer and more powerful than even our democratically elected politicians. So if we, the citizens, want to see a fast transition towards an existence without fossil fuels, we really need to understand which powers we are up against.
Clippings from the news stream
Energy freedom fighters? Members of the resistance movement against climate criminals? Or disruptors of status quo who should be punished? History will, eventually, be their true and unbiased judge.
I think ten years from now, these three men will be seen as heroes of our time. Just like Nelson Mandela was a hero of his resistance movement at the time when eventually he was released from prison.
→ Medium – 23 August 2018:
This 15-year-old Girl Breaks Swedish Law for the Climate
Greta Thunberg skips school to protest outside Swedish Parliament: “If grown-ups don’t give a shit about my future, I won’t either.”
→ The New Yorker – 3 April 2018:
Sometimes Fighting Climate Change Means Breaking the Law
￼By Carolyn Kormann
→ The Independent – 27 March 2018:
Anti-pipeline campaigners found not guilty by judge because ‘protest against climate change crisis’ was legal ‘necessity’
‘We’re part of the the movement that is standing up and saying we won’t let this go by on our watch’
American actor a week in jail
Actor James Cromwell, better known as Farmer Hoggett, will serve a week in jail after refusing to pay fines that arose from his involvement in a climate protest in upstate New York.
→ Democracy Now – 14 July 2017:
Oscar-Nominated Actor James Cromwell Speaks Out Before Jail Time for Peaceful Anti-Fracking Protest
First-ever MIT media lab Disobedience Award.
Civil disobedience in Newcastle, Australia
“A large percentage of us were clearly over 50 and had never done anything like this before.
One of them, Lis, aged 70, wrote ‘I had some concerns about participating in the action and risking arrest, however the absolute urgency of addressing climate change overrode everything else. I have two beautiful grandchildren, and my conscience demands that I do everything I can to bequeath them a healthy environment.’
Janet, 67, wrote ‘Future generations won’t forgive us if we neglect to act.’ ”
→ Canberra and Goulburn Anglican Community – 2 June 2016:
Pamela Phillips: The price of conscience
Protecting the atmospheric commons
At a first glance this article may not seem related to the climate emergency petition directly, because it circles around the topic of civil disobedience, but I believe the information it provides is important to understand and keep in mind for members of this group. Because what we in particular need to understand – as a movement building support for a parliamentarian Climate Emergency Declaration – is that…:
“As trustee, the government has a strict “fiduciary duty” to the owners — the citizen beneficiaries. This legal duty requires government officials to act in the citizens’ interest, with “the highest duty of care.”
Our officials have no legal right to harm the public trust for the benefit a corporation or other private interest — no matter how politically powerful it may be.
This fundamental principle is embodied in the laws and constitutions of countries around the world. It was codified in the Institutes of Justinian, issued by the Roman Emperor in 535 A.D., which stated, “By the law of nature these things are common to mankind — the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea.”
Use of the Public Trust Doctrine for climate protection has been pioneered by young people represented by Our Children’s Trust, who have brought lawsuits or rulemaking petitions in every U.S. state, against the federal government, and in countries around the world, to require governments to act on their public trust duty to protect the climate, and to protect fundamental constitutional rights.
Climate protesters can proudly proclaim that they are actually climate protectors, upholding the law embedded in the Public Trust.
Those who blockade coal-fired power plants or sit down at the White House to protest fossil fuel pipelines can — and should — insist that they are exercising their fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty and their responsibility to protect the atmospheric commons they own along with all of present and future humankind.
Those who perpetrate climate change, and those who allow them to do so, should not be able to claim that the law is on their side.”
As such, the so-called ‘protestors’ involved in civil disobedience actions, (many of who were being arrested and will now be prosecuted in large numbers in the coming months) should be defined – within the movement as well as to the public, and the courts – not as criminals but as law-enforcers trying to halt governments and corporations from committing the greatest crime in human history.
“The people of the world have a right, indeed a duty, to demand that our governments protect the Public Trust we own in common — the earth’s climate, in order to exercise our constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.”
→ Read the full article on www.commondreams.org
“There is a fight underway, and it is the great fight of our time. The arc of the physical universe is short, and it bends towards heat. If we don’t win soon, we do not win. So that’s why the urgency is so deep. That’s why people are doing things that no-one should have to do.”
→ New Matilda – 24 April 2016:
Sketching The Fight: Bill McKibben On How To Save The Planet
“In the “dark shadow of what’s happened in the Great Barrier Reef,” prominent climate activist Bill McKibben has urged Australians to join in plans to shut down the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle this May.”
→ Al Jazeera America – 28 September 2014:
Green movement embracing more radical tactics as desperation grows
As more and more people become aware of the severity of the climate crisis and as serious political action on climate issues stagnates, lines are blurring between traditional green groups and reformist factions
“Today’s action saw people dance to the tune of The Beegee’s Staying Alive, whilst an acrobat dressed as a disco ball hung from a tripod blocking coal trucks on the haul road into the Tarrawonga coal mine near to the Leard State Forest.
The Leard Blockade peaceful protest camp has generated a massive groundswell of support across the country of people wanting to protect farms, forest, community, culture and the climate. 243 people have been arrested in the first half of 2014.”
Civil ‘Disco-bedience’ as Front Line Action on Coal Camp Enters Second Year
“[Politicians] are not representing our interests, and they are beholden to their corporate overlords to the point where they are lying to us at these town-halls. And it’s time we cut these politicians out of the equation, and start to take direct action that actually effects our quality of life. So, what that means is: When there’s red air days, expect blockades at refineries. When these companies start strip mining, expect blockades at the strip mine.”
Will Munger, Canyon Country Rising Tide
Photo uploaded by 350.org on Facebook.
→ Sydney Morning Herald – 12 March 2014:
Faith and science combine as religious leaders join fight for Maules Creek
Op-ed by Thea Ormero
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Religious leaders arrested at Maules Creek
In Australia, religious leaders were arrested at Maules Creek on 12 March 2014 for blocking access to a mine site.
“Religious leaders – four Uniting Church Ministers, two Priests, one Catholic and one Buddhist, and a number of lay people – made the long trip to Maules Creek in northwest New South Wales to hold a prayer vigil at the gates to Whitehaven Coal’s mine construction site. They’ve added their voices to those of the traditional owners of the land – the Gomeroi people – who believe their sacred sites in the Leard Forest are being destroyed, to call for the mine to be stopped.
Following the vigil, some of the religious leaders joined locals and supporters to block the entrance to the mine site, turning away trucks and heavy equipment. Several of those religious leaders were then arrested and detained by Police.
One of those people was Thea Ormerod, head of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change and grandmother of six. Thea has written an amazing op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald. In that she said:
“You may ask how such a group could endorse anything so radical, but this is a well-worn path for people of faith… The movement to wind down coal-mining in Australia may be counter-cultural but it is the truly conservative one. Its aim is to keep the Earth’s ecosystems more or less intact for those who suffer the impact of climate change in developing countries, for our own young people here and for future generations. Not a radical position at all.”
Today’s events acknowledge that every legitimate avenue to stop the open-cut coal mine near Maules Creek has failed. Even though not one of the 212 submissions from the community supported the mine, the mine has been approved. And with climate policy being slashed by the Government, there comes a time where we have to make personal sacrifices to protect our future. That time has come.”
Excerpt of an e-mail from the350.org Australia team – which added that they would now be heading to Maules Creek to join the Leard blockade protest
Young leaders are committed to transformation
Old divides between issues — like environment versus jobs — are coming down. Young leaders we spoke to are committed to social justice and environmental resilience, to inner transformation and to transformation of the world, to active resistance to practices that harm people and the planet and to building the world we want to see now.”
“So don’t let the Apocalypse get you down. Let the radical uncertainty of this moment enlarge your sense of possibility. Yes, there are dangers; there are no guarantees that the next decades will turn out well for people or for the living systems of Mother Earth. But if one way of life is ending, we can build a new one. When the status quo is unstable, we have the best shot at replacing it.”
Excerpt of an article Sarah van Gelder wrote for ‘Love and the Apocalypse’, the Summer 2013 issue of YES! Magazine. Sarah is executive editor of YES!
→ YES! Magazine – 22 May 2013:
Don’t Let the Apocalypse Get You Down
The climate crisis is spinning out of control, and the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow unabated. It’s time to let the radical uncertainty of this moment enlarge our sense of possibility. The precariousness of our future is inspiring us to get radical — to look for change that goes to the roots of our culture. By Sarah van Gelder
One man’s war on the oil and gas industry
“After five years of being ignored by the oil and gas industry, Wiebo Ludwig decided to fight for his land and his family’s survival.”
“When one oil and gas company proposed doing seismic testing and another began drilling a well north of the Ludwig compound, the family barricaded the road to prevent access. Following a spate of bombings and vandalism targeting oil facilities in the ‘90s, he was convicted on five charges, including blowing up a gas well, vandalizing another and trying to obtain dynamite from a police informant. He was released from prison after 18 months and questions surrounding his vigilante activism never ceased.
When another series of explosions rocked pipelines in northern B.C., Mr. Ludwig was questioned, but never charged.”
“The man who waged North America’s first significant war against hydraulic fracturing was from Alberta, an eccentric, messianic Christian preacher named Wiebo Ludwig who died last year.
He, with his small Christian community in the remote north of the province, sabotaged at least one wellhead by pouring cement down its shaft and blew up others.
The Canadian authorities, along with the oil and gas barons, demonize Ludwig as an ecoterrorist, an odd charge given that they are the ones responsible for systematically destroying the environment and the planet. And as the ecosystem deteriorates – and the drive by corporations to extract the last remaining natural resources from the earth, even if it kills us all, becomes more and more relentless – the resistance of Wiebo Ludwig is worth remembering.”
“Ludwig’s first acts of sabotage were minor. He laid down nail beds on roads. He smashed solar panels. He blocked roads by downing trees. He disabled vehicles and drilling equipment. But after two leaks of hydrogen sulfide sour gas from nearby wells—which forced everyone on the farm to evacuate and saw numerous farm animals giving birth to deformed or stillborn offspring, as well as five human miscarriages or stillbirths within Ludwig’s community—and after the destruction of two of his water wells, he declared open war on the oil and gas industry. He began to blow up oil and gas facilities. He said he had to fight back to ‘protect his children’.” (…)
“Ludwig, whose knowledge of the terrain allowed him to outfox hundreds of police officers, was never caught in an act of sabotage, but he probably had a hand in damage at hundreds of remote well sites estimated at $12 million. The federal government in Ottawa, in desperation, considered sending in the army. Ludwig was finally arrested in 2000 on five counts of property damage and possession of explosives and imprisoned for 18 months. He spent his time in prison reading a treatise in Dutch on the nature of hell.” (…)
“Ludwig, before he died at age 71 after refusing chemotherapy for esophageal cancer, turned away from violence. The renunciation came a year or two after his final bombing campaign. He would read, with his family, Jacques Ellul’s 1969 book “Violence: Reflections From a Christian Perspective.” Ellul, like Ludwig’s Dutch father, had fought in the resistance against the Nazis in World War II.
“What constantly marked the life of Jesus was not nonviolence but in every situation the choice not to use power,” he wrote. “This is infinitely different.” ”
→ TruthDig – 1 December 2013:
Article by Chris Hedges
→ National Post – 10 April 2012:
Jesse Kline on Wiebo Ludwig: The world is safer without him
Article by Jesse Kline
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→ Documentary film: ‘Wiebo’s War’ – a portrayal of Ludwig and his fight with the oil and gas industry
→ Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnBibPMCcME
→ Film website: www.wieboswar.com
→ Download site with 2 trailers and three clips: www.nfb.ca
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→ Wikipedia – the open encyclopedia: www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiebo_Ludwig
→ ABC – 6 May 2013:
Train station targeted by environment campaigners
Environment group Quit Coal has unfurled a huge banner at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne to protest against the lack of action on renewable energy. The banner which says ‘Get off the coal train and on track for renewables’ was raised above the iconic clocks on the main Melbourne train station during the morning peak.
→ Utne – April 2013:
Tales from the Sustainable Underground
Chronicling the lives of select alternative building pioneers and the laws they broke in the name of sustainability. By Stephen Hren
Taking a stand
Coal and CSG free community
Ban on all oil and gas drilling
Mora County in New Mexico is reportedly the first place in the U.S. to impose an outright ban on all oil and gas drilling.
→ Grist – 1 May 2013:
New Mexico county is first in the nation to ban all drilling and fracking
By John Upton
Civil disobedience leaders
On 21 November 2017, Thea Ormerod led a multi-faith group of six peaceful protestors blocking work on the rail line from Abbot Point to the Galilee Basin to protest Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine. She explained her position and reasoning in an article on ABC.net.au:
“We are facing a climate emergency: The time has come for civil resistance
“The world is now in a climate emergency, and this requires a response which is purely ethically informed and courageous, rather than cautious and self-protective. To refrain from doing all we can to oppose Adani and other fossil fuel extraction companies is to hold back from full solidarity with the Wangan and Jagalingou, with coming generations and with all those currently suffering because of climate disruption.
Some believe this to be extreme. In our view, it is being truly conservative to act according to our traditional values with the goal of conserving this sacred earth. We believe that in our context today, it is part of our mission as people of faith to include civil resistance in the suite of options we offer faith communities as they respond to the climate challenge.
Some other parts of the environment movement are also moving in this direction. What ARRCC hopes to add is the legitimation which comes from our historical connections with long religious traditions, our beliefs and values which are grounded in scriptures and spiritual practices.”
~ Thea Omerod, president of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
→ ABC – 30 November 2017:
We Are Facing a Climate Emergency: The Time Has Come for Civil Resistance
In an act of civil disobedience, biologist, author and mother Sandra Steingraber along with 11 others recently blocked business at a Inergy gas storage facility near Seneca Lake, New York in USA.
On 18 April 2013, she was sentenced to 15 days in jail for her trespass. “I trespassed. It was an act of civil disobedience. Because I have deep respect for the rule of law, which Inergy company does not, I am willing to go to jail,” she said to the court before her sentencing.
From prison, she wrote in a letter: “The west shore of Seneca Lake is [my son’s] birthplace, and the sound of green frogs twanging in the night was the theme song for my labor and delivery,” she said in the letter. “So, yes, my course of political action has taken me away from my own children in an attempt to redress this problem on their behalf, and during the first five days, when I was kept in 24-hour lock-up, I had no access to them. But I am convinced the tears of my children now will be less than their tears later — along with the tears of my grandchildren — if we mothers do nothing and allow the oil, coal and gas companies to hurdle us all off the climate cliff.”
→ The Ithacan – 25 April 2013:
IC distinguished scholar Sandra Steingraber released from jail
“It is time now to play the Save the World Symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold but you need to play it as best you can and find your place in the score. You don’t have to play solo here, but this is our task now.
In the same way that my father at age 18 was shipped off to Italy to fight Hitler’s army. It was the task of his generation to defeat global fascism – and at the time he was sent it looked like an overwhelming job. The Thousand Year Reign. It didn’t look good for our side, but never the less – that was the right thing to do.
And my father — even though he suffered his whole life from what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder — was ever proud of the role he played. And so, at this point in our history, it is the environmental crisis that is the great moral crisis of our age. And in that I don’t want to be a ‘Good German’. I don’t want to be so paralyzed by Well-Informed Facility Syndrome that I don’t look around me and see the signs of harm. I want to be one of the French Resistance. I want to be the people who stand up and say: ‘This is not right. No matter how difficult this is to change, we are going to have to change it.’
Biologist, mother and activist Sandra Steingraber, explaining her role in inspiring others to protect children from environmental toxins and climate change — and why she was willing to go to jail for blocking access to the construction of a storage and transportation facility involved in the controversial process of fracking — in the one-hour American tv programme Moyers & Company on 19 April 2013.
A documentary about Tim DeChristopher’s fight, ‘Bidder 70’.
Tim DeChristopher served 18 months in federal custody for an inspired act of civil disobedience. He participated in an auction for federal leases to drill for gas and oil even though he wasn’t a rich oilman. The federal government was unamused—instead of charging him as an activist who’d pulled off a creative stunt, they treated him as a financial criminal whose intent had been to defraud. (This was the same Department of Justice that didn’t manage to find anyone to prosecute for bringing down our financial system with their greed.) And so he’s given up a year and a half of his life.
“It’s no accident that the emerging fossil fuel resistance has sent so many people to jail in the last few years. That’s because the overwhelming wealth of the fossil fuel industry means we can’t outspend them; we need other currencies with which to work. Passion, spirit, creativity. And sometimes we have to spend our bodies,” Tim DeChristopher said.
The film ‘Bidder 70’ is the personal story of Tim DeChristopher surrounded by a wider context of citizen action, our history of peaceful civil disobedience, and grass roots movements demanding government and industry accountability.
His story inspires many to join in with Peaceful Uprising – the group he helped found.
Peaceful Uprising is a nonprofit collective committed to action to combat the climate crisis and build a just, healthy world. The collective seeks to inspire citizens to recognise themselves as agents of change, and to build communities that empower and enable each of us to take effective, necessary nonviolent action.
→ Home page: peacefuluprising.org
→ ‘Bidder 70’ trailer on youtube.com
DeChristopher joined Bill Moyers in May 2013, less than one month after his release from prison, to talk about the necessity of civil disobedience in the fight for justice, how his jury was ordered to place the strict letter of the law over moral conscience and the future of the environmental movement.
Protesting against fossil fuels regarded as terrorism
“Among anti-drilling activists there is a sense that 2013 is a do-or-die year. (…) As the drilling boom moves into ever more populated areas, activists are gearing up for more focused organizing and larger nonviolent protests. With tens of thousands of wells yet to be drilled, at least this much is clear: The industry will be watching closely.”
Adam Federman, Earth Island Journal
“It’s the new politics of the petro-state. Anything that’s remotely linked with direct action or nonviolent civil disobedience is being described as extremism, which is the new code word of security agencies.”
Jeff Monaghan, a researcher with the Surveillance Studies Center at Queen’s University in Ontario, USA
→ Utne – 30 August 2013:
Climate Activists, Eco-Terrorism, and the Green Scare
Working directly with energy industry groups and private security firms, the government has broadened the legal definition of terrorism and now targets climate activists. By Adam Federman, Earth Island Journal, September/October 2013. Research support for this article was provided by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.
→ NBC News – 15 May 2013:
Climate activist served two years in federal prison for civil disobedience
Climate activist Tim DeChristopher was released last month from prison after interrupting a Bush era oil and drilling auction in 2008. Chris Hayes talks to DeChristopher about his experiences and upcoming film.
→ The Walrus – March 2013:
The Accidental Activist
How an energy economist and former government adviser found himself blocking a coal train. By Mark Jaccard
Greenpeace: End the Age of Coal Action
Greenpeace activists climb aboard a coal ship leaving Australia, demanding an end to the expansion of coal exports and urgent action on climate change. The six activists come from five countries in the Asia Pacific region where Greenpeace is campaigning to end the age of coal: Australia, India, the US, China, and New Zealand.
→ See the photos on flickr.com
Summer heat: civil disobedience
Frustrated about the global ‘carbon madness’m protesters are ready to risk going to jail for their cause. In 2013, the organisation 350.org is organising what it calls ‘Summer Heat’ — a nationwide protest effort in the U.S.:
“We believe that mass action can breathe life into even the most hardened political fights, and so these actions will all aim to bring together thousands of people to stand together — perhaps sometimes on the wrong side of the law. Our hope is that this summer will be a historic show of solidarity not just with the Americans who suffer most from the fossil fuel industry, but with the people across the planet whose lives are at risk as the world warms — and indeed with the planet itself, beleaguered but still so worth fighting for,” wrote 350.org.
Additionally, 350.org is also organising globally: an international movement, Global Shift, begins in late June 2013 with a global summit in Turkey.
→ Source: economist.com
Communities of Resilient Resistance
Communities of Resilient Resistance is a collaborative resource to build a just and healthy world which starts in each of our communities. They write:
“The idea arose through many conversations with activists around the U.S. about starting PeaceUp chapters. However, we hesitated to follow a conventional NGO chapters model. Not only do we lack the capacity or interest to take charge of new chapters, but more importantly, we believe that community starts from within, and sharing powerful ideas can inspire a healthier diversity of decentralized, uniquely organized communities.
So, we got to work distilling what we’ve learned through three years of organizing and activism. This site represents a starting point sourced from our community in Salt Lake City, but we intend for many more voices to contribute! (…)
We recognize that the movement needs bold innovation, and that only real grassroots efforts will break new ground. We also recognize that this movement is not about making whatever compromises are necessary to win a short-term victory in a small battle. Winning will take a radical paradigm shift, founded in a cohesive vision and an evolution of values and human consciousness.”
→ Read more on: corr.peacefuluprising.org
Impressions and trends
Bantayan Island, Cebu, The Philippines – 22 April 2013:
Youth leaders, top litigation lawyers launch climate actions
On Earth Day, 22 April, youth leaders from all over the world, backed up by top litigation lawyers, converged in Bantayan Island, Cebu. Together, they launched a series of socio-political and legal actions to compel to the present generation to take action act on the impacts of climate change.
Climate change is an issue of intergenerational justice and equity. Frustrated by the failure of the present generation to take meaningful action to address the climate crisis, the youth are fired to assert their right to a safe and healthful future by using the power of the law.
Road sharing movement in the Philippines
For ground-level action, Filipino youth leaders launched the filing of petitions for the Road Sharing Movement. This movement calls on the Philippine Government to transform the road and transportation system from the present car-based system to one that is fairer and more people-friendly.
Using a little known law on peopleʼs initiative, young Filipino leaders, backed by their lawyers, will file petitions to directly propose their local governments to pass an ordinance. The proposed ordinance calls for the sharing of the road space: At least one-half of roads will be used only for path-walks and bicycle lanes, and the other half for a good public transport system.
Other petitions in twenty-four barangays all over the Philippines in Metro Manila cities, in the Visayas (Dumaguete and Cebu), and as far away as Coron, Palawan and Kidapawan in North Cotabato in Mindanao were also filed by residents of said barangays. The barangays were all petitioned by their residents to share the roads to put up wide and all-weather sidewalks and bicycle lanes. It is estimated that only 2 per cent of the people in the Philippines have motor vehicles. Yet these motor vehicles have been given all of the road space, leaving hardly any space for the 98% of the Filipinos who have no motor vehicles. “Those who have less in wheels must have more in roads,” said the organizers.
The team of youth leaders and their lawyers are also sending out a Nationwide Notice to Sue to the Philippine Government addressed to the Climate Change Commission (CCC). The CCC is the sole policy-making body of the government tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and action plans of the government relating to climate change. Since its establishment in 2009, the CCC has failed to pass any policies to reduce fossil fuel emissions especially from motor vehicles.
Top Filipino lawyers Tony Oposa, Sig Fortun, Golly Ramos, Gen Tadaba, Beryl Desabelle, Rica de Guzman, and a team of young lawyers, were joined by international environmental lawyers Brook Meakins, Durwood Zaelke, John Boyd of the US, Selyna Pereis of Sri Lanka, Stephen Leonard of Australia, among others.
“We congratulate the Filipino people for once again showing the world the way of a peaceful revolution. This time, they are leading a revolution of the mind,” said Durwood Zaelke, Founder of the Center for International Environmental Law and Director of the International Network for Environmental Enforcement.
“Involvement of the youth is of critical importance to addressing these issues for the purpose of ensuring our environmental treasures are protected for future generations,” says Australian lawyer Steve Leonard, an expert on climate change impacts on world heritage sites.
Brook Meakins, representing the International Climate Legal Action Team, said, “This may seem like a small pebble that was tossed into a pond. But the ripples that it will create will start a wonderful wave of change that the young of the world can learn from and perhaps, emulate.”
“Today, the youth of the Philippines, backed by their international supporters and top lawyers, have launched a peaceful revolution … of the mind. This revolution will be waged with only the sword of reason, the firepower of the Law, and the violence of an idea whose time has come,” said Filipino lawyer Tony Oposa, a co-convenor of the event and member of the International Climate Legal Action Team.
In the coming months, youth from around the world will call on governments, corporations, and international institutions to protect the climate in the name of present and future generations. The voices of youth will unite, compelling these decision-makers to address the intergenerational justice dimensions of climate change and holding them accountable for their actions and/or inactions.
2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren
A multi-generational group of optimistic climate activists in the US, committed to keeping fossil fuels in the ground, beginning with the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
→ Home page: 2013walkforourgrandchildren.org | Facebook
Thumbs up to two adventure cyclists from Bangladesh who rode across USA to raise awareness against plastic, waste and its connection to climate change.
→ More about ‘digital activism’, also called ‘clicktivism’
The kind of things you can do from a computer sceen at home.