Are you here, now, living on this small planet Earth? Very well, so you are. And so am I. The question is why. Why did our souls choose to shoot into human bodies so that our unique, extraordinary beings would be present during this climactic climate change moment? Why did we choose to love and be loved, here, now? Why can we simply not bear to see our children and grandchildren growing up just at the very moment when Earth’s biosphere radically deteriorates? Why?
I’m betting that as we dare to face the predicted fateful future we will spring into concerted action, all of us together, locally based, in the initiatives that call to each of us personally; I’m betting that as we do, the answers to our anguished “why?” will unfurl, along with our startling, gloriously original individual natures. I’m betting that Earth, and all her creatures, will rejoice, and that the stars on a dark night will still wink at us, remind us to use this intensely sacred moment to wake the fuck up.
There’s a growing effort to merge economic-justice and climate activism. Call it climate democracy.
February 6, 2014
Anyone who is committed to the hard work of bringing deep structural change to our economic, social and political systems—the kind of change that requires a long-term strategy of organizing and movement-building—is now faced with scientific facts so immediate and so dire as to render a life’s work seemingly futile. The question, then, becomes how to escape that paralyzing sense of futility, and how to accelerate the sort of grassroots democratic mobilization we need if we’re to salvage any hope of a just and stable society.
A lot of people I know in the climate movement think the left, and the economic left in particular — pretty much the entire spectrum from mainstream liberals to Occupy radicals — has not yet taken on board the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. Not really. Not the full, stark set of facts. At the same time, mainstream climate advocates, wanting to broaden the climate movement, are told that they have too often been tone-deaf on issues of economic justice and inequality. How to reconcile these? How to merge the fights for economic justice and climate action with the kind of good faith and urgency required to build a real climate-justice movement?
I don’t know anyone who has all the answers, but I do know a few people who are at least asking the right kinds of questions, starting the necessary conversations and actually working to connect climate and economic-justice organizing across the country. As it happens, more than a few of them were engaged in Occupy. (David Graeber should be proud.) They point to a convergence of movements for economic democracy and climate justice, and show us what a trajectory from Occupy to something new—call it climate democracy—might look like.
Equally important, they’re acting with the kind of urgency, and commitment to civil resistance, that the crisis demands. They know there can be no climate justice without economic justice, but they also know there won’t be any economic justice—any justice at all—without facing up to our climate reality, simultaneously slashing emissions and building resilience. They know the “climate” part of “climate justice” cannot be an afterthought, some optional add-on to please “environmentalists.” Because this shit is real. And the game is far from over. No matter what happens in terms of climate policy in the next few years—and the prospects are not pretty—current and future generations have to live through what’s coming.