Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Long Emergency: George Monbiot on Civil Disobedience

Guardian columnist on why massive civil disobedience is an urgent necessity. He isn't new to the case -- he' been crying the alarm for decades. But now he realizes that writing, and agitating, and voting aren't working. People are taking to the streets, and in Britain they're trying to pack the jail cells.

Nowhere on Earth does government action match the scale of the catastrophes we face. Part of the reason is the remarkably low level of public discussion and information on this crisis. Another is that the political risks of action are higher than the perceived rewards – a balance the protesters want to redress. But perhaps the most important factor is the brute power of the pollutocrats driving this disaster. As the Guardian’s The polluters series shows, the big fossil fuel companies have used political funding, intense lobbying and gross deceptions of the public to overwhelm environmental protections and keep harvesting their massive profits.
Those who confront them have no such power. We cannot buy television channels and newspapers, pour billions into political lobbying or seed dark ads on social media. We have only one strength: our vulnerability. By putting our bodies on the line and risking our liberty, we make this great neglected issue impossible to ignore.
The Guardian has been running a lengthy series on the climate emergency, and you can sample their recent stories here.  The obvious question is why corporate media in the U.S. aren't doing the same. Of course there isn't room in the New York Times, their space is all taken up interviewing unrepentant Trump voters in Midwestern diners.


Don Quixote said...

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. It's a human evolutionary tool run amok.

Woody Peckerwood said...

This type of movement seems to be much bigger in Europe than in the states. I'll be interested when people in China are involved.

Cervantes said...

Well as I expect you know China does not generally tolerate protests by its citizens. (There are exceptions for protests against local corruption.) You may have noticed what's going on in Hong Kong right now, and you may have heard of a little-known incident some decades ago in Tienanmin Square. I can tell you as an academic editor for an international journal that Chinese scholars are allowed to study climate and environment issues, there is discussion of it in the state-controlled media and the government is officially committed to action but mass protest, I'm afraid, is not going to happen.

Sober Curious said...

Cervantes said...

Yes, China is very important in this. I would say regarding the above links:

1) Developing countries in which China is building coal plants need to change their developmental trajectory. Technical assistance and incentives from the wealthier countries will help.

2) China itself no doubt faces the same headwinds of vested interests as the rest of the world. They can overcome it but international pressure is probably necessary. Unfortunately the U.S. pulling out of the Paris agreement, and making intellectual property the sole focus of trade negotiations, isn't doing anything to help.