photo by drown_ in_city on Unsplash
Where are the huge powerful climate protests? The people in the streets, standing in front of the capitol? Parked outside ExxonMobil HQ? Where is the disruption, the steady activism?
The climate of the planet is literally being destroyed. And the most visible protest is a handful of people glueing themselves to artworks in museums. They are getting SOME attention, mostly from people who are concerned about the art — which is never damaged.
What’s going on here?
No Evil Geniuses
Let’s rule out stuff. There isn’t a cabal of evil geniuses brainwashing us into supporting oil and gas and coal. We don’t see masses of people protesting in favor of those things. The oily plutocrats are doing terrible unforgivable things, and sometimes they work together. But they are stupid and their attempts to suppress or divert opposition aren’t that big of a force.
No. Really. People aren’t falling for their crap. They KNOW that plutocrats are ruining the lives of everyone’s children. They KNOW that even the plutocrats own children will live on a ruined Earth, and resent their parents to their accelerated dying days.
The rich are stupid. They overreach. They say the evil part out loud. They think they are smart, but they are SO stupid that they can’t stop themselves from killing their own children.
That’s pretty damn stupid.
But here’s the thing. Both the moronic plutocrats and the people suffering in silence with climate anxiety are acting in accord with human nature. It’s not really about greed. It’s about inertia and the physics of crowds.
People tend to live by the rules of the world into which they were born. They look to each other to model behavior. Children of rich people, by and large, behave like their parents. And ordinary non-rich people go about their lives, living by the rules of the world in which they live.
So, at the moment, we have this deadly stasis.
Something Is Happening Underneath
Back when there was ice, 90% of icebergs were underwater. You couldn’t see them, but they were there. Big time.
We are bombarded with messages of how to think and act. It’s in the news, in the media and in the culture. It isn’t always engineered. Many of the snake oil salesmen actually drink snake oil. The people in media and in the culture largely believe their own bullshit. But much of the public no longer does.
We are seeing and experiencing climate collapse. We know that warm weather in winter isn’t normal. We know that Siberia shouldn’t top 100 degrees, and that giant storm that flooded the subways of NYC isn’t just another weather event.
We know that 15,000 scientists have been warning us about climate destruction for decades and that events are exceeding their most deadly predictions. And we know that politicians and businessmen have been consistently blocking any meaningful actions to stop it.
We all know that rich people own media, own politicians and get the policies they want. It’s no secret that the money of the wealthy floods governments. When it comes to oil and gas and coal, nearly every government on Earth wants to get and burn as much of it as they can.
That’s how “leaders” get their wealth and power. They don’t care about anything else. They don’t even care about their own children. They are behaving as expected, taking the path of least resistance, fulfilling their roles of the world into which they were born.
Sometimes Business As Usual Breaks Down
But we aren’t doomed. Far from it.
There are enormous numbers of latent protesters and activists. They are angry, or fearful, or they simply love their children and want to save them. Greed isn’t the core of human nature. Greed is simply one aspect of human nature, one that is fed and cultivated by the current culture. It seems dominant but within the realm of human qualities, it isn’t that powerful.
The love parents have for their children is powerful. Very, very powerful. Greed is rarely a quality beneficial for survival, but love of one’s own children is why the human race still exists.
Parents everywhere are starting to see that climate collapse poses a real and imminent threat to their children. With every storm, mudslide, wildfire, drought and flood, the realization grows stronger.
A Trigger and An Explosion
There is always a trigger — an event that sparks the explosion. Whether it’s George Floyd or Harvey Weinstein, something always inevitably releases the pent up anger. The explosion comes.
And someone always models the behavior that inspires people. Whether it’s a few people hanging out in Zuccotti Park or a lone girl with a sign standing by the Swedish Parliament, the model for ending silence always appears.
Nobody knows who or when these events will occur. Who and what will spark the climate explosion? When will complaining about climate activists end and be replaced by a visible, powerful mass movement? People who won’t take “no” for an answer? People who will never be silent until their children and the Earth is made safe?
But this will happen.
What Do We Do Now?
Those of us who understand the urgency and the dire nature of climate collapse need to try to speed up events. We need to try various ways to set the spark. We don’t know what will work. Part of it is timing and part of it is simply stumbling onto the right thing to do. The action that will resonate with people. The behavior that will establish that the time is NOW.
Like everyone else, I don’t really know quite what to do. But I believe in trying things, and I believe we should work in groups. We can support and encourage each other. We can do things together. We can lift each other up when one effort fails and work together on the next tactic.
I think we should power our movement with love and joy — not anger and hatred. This isn’t about the evil oil industry, although we can and must dismantle that deadly force. This is about what we love — our children and the Earth. This is about ditching greed and division and hatred and embracing the better angels of our Nature.
Using this focus, we can not only succeed in overcoming deadly climate collapse. We can truly build a better future — not simply replace one cruel system with another. That’s why our movement should be powered by love and joy and even humor.
This is how we win.
I’ve tried things that didn’t work. Maybe they would have worked had I continued them. I tried persuading plutocrats and politicians to see reality and change their ways. I tried visibly protesting by myself in front of the famous Love sculpture in Philadelphia.
I didn’t get results.
My new idea is to start regular Virtual Climate Parties. Not political parties. Groups of people at playful video chat social events. Events where we indulge in drinking and chatting but also strategizing and planning. We come up with ideas to execute and sub-groups try them out — in the real world.
We aim to set the spark. And have a good time doing it.
And if these events become popular — because they are fun AND meaningful — they may proliferate. Attendees of the first VCPs might start their own. And so on.
We could end up with a diverse and decentralized movement, making cultural changes and modeling behavior for dissent. This movement — a widespread leaderless movement — would be unstoppable.
This is my dream. I know I’m just one person. I can’t do it myself. Nor can you. But together, I’m convinced that WE CAN.
I’m working out details on how these Virtual Climate Parties will work and then I’ll begin holding them. I think the first ones will be in January, but if I have a breakthrough, they could start earlier.
When the first VCP is scheduled, I’ll announce it here on Medium at on the website at aclimatedeclaration.com.
Thanks for reading.