‘Trouble is the only thing we need more of’ – in reference to more climate activists.
Civil action is what democracy requires, and what it is built off of. If there is no alternative story, the status quo prevails. Being silent lends consent to the current practices of extractive industries, lax politicians, and lax national and international law that allow for gross violations of environmental and human rights. Look at what is going on right now in Standing Rock. People are being abused and getting arrested for standing up against the environmentally and socially destructive oil industry. The irony is that the reservations were given to the Native American communities because they were thought to be the ‘worst’ land, and now that resources can pass through them, or be found on them (fracking and oil sands as seen in Canada and the Dakotas) they are desirable again. McKibben reminds us we are seeing this old theme of ‘Army vs. Indian’ with the Native American communities pitted against the Army Corps of Engineers, who ultimately get to decide the fate of the pipeline. In the meantime, the ills of trans-national trade agreements are being made clear as TransCanada is suing for $15B of US taxpayer’s money, as a result of the delays and the infringement on their right to ‘free trade.’
McKibben is adamant in efforts to divest, to revoke the social license of the oil, gas and extractive industries. Tolerance and acceptance for these businesses needs to be socially revoked. These industries cause more social and environmental ills than goods. Delays in action only make workable solutions more costly and difficult. McKibben reminds us that Exxon has known about climate change for decades – they’ve even built their rigs to accommodate sea level rise! If they would have come out with their own scientific climate findings that echo that of the IPCC, we could have moved forward a long time ago! There is no discrepancy in the science. ‘Doubt’ is a mere stalling tactic in a failing industry, a strategy that was used in the tobacco industry for years to keep its business afloat. As long as there is more oil to drill, as long as a public is deceived, companies will keep on doing what they do best, unfortunately.
This is why an engaged public is essential. We are all subjects of the transformation (Freire). Let us prove MLK wrong when he said: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Learning from past struggles is a chance to bring about transformation. To date, 350.org has fostered 20,000 international climate rallies. Globally, there is an emergent voice calling for change. The small and the many is speaking up against the big and the few. From Kayaktivists,to blockadia, divestment initiative, local rallies, local ballots, local movements, the climate of change is definitely rising.