When 30 climate activists from 18 countries protested drilling at an oil platform operated by Gazprom in the Russian Arctic, they represented the people of the world taking a symbolic stand against climate destruction, the corporate climate destroyers, and the governments that back them. But the action of the Arctic 30 may be prophetic of something more: The emergence of a global insurgency that challenges the very legitimacy of those who are destroying our planet.
The 2013 Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that humans are destroying the earth’s climate. But it also revealed something even more alarming: Twenty-five years of human effort to protect the climate have failed even to slow the forces that are destroying it. On the contrary, the rate of increase in carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels tripled between the release of the first IPCC report in 1988 and today.
Scientists and climate protection advocates once expected that rational leaders and institutions would respond appropriately to the common threat of climate change. As Bill McKibben said of Jim Hansen and himself, “I think he thought, as did I, if we get this set of facts out in front of everybody, they’re so powerful — overwhelming — that people will do what needs to be done.”
It didn’t work. Those who are fighting to save the climate need a new strategy. One such strategy to consider is a global nonviolent law-enforcing insurgency, where citizens take it upon themselves to defend the climate directly and preserve the public trust for generations to come.
Jeremy Brecher is co-founder and core team member of the Labor Network for Sustainability. He is the author of more than a dozen books on labor and social movements and has received five regional Emmy awards for his documentary film work. An updated edition of his labor history Strike! (PM Press 2014) will include a new chapter on the working class mini-revolts of the 21st century.
Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution licence.
Teaser image: Climate protest via schuminweb/flickr. Creative Commons license 2.0.